TMA Celebrates Distinguished Members at 90th Annual Meeting

A little over a week ago, I attended the Technology and Manufacturing Association’s Annual Meeting during which awards are bestowed on distinguished members for their work on behalf of the TMA and the manufacturing industry as a whole.

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Jim Hommer, Sr., founder of Hommer Tool and Manufacturing (right) receives the Technology and Manufacturing Association's distinguished Winzeler Award from John Winzeler.

A little over a week ago, I attended the Technology and Manufacturing Association’s Annual Meeting during which awards are bestowed on distinguished members for their work on behalf of the TMA and the manufacturing industry as a whole. To my great surprise and pleasure, I found that I knew all three honored members very well and I am excited to tell you about them over the course of my next few blog posts.

James Hommer, Sr., founder of Hommer Tool and Manufacturing Co. in Arlington Heights, Illinois, was honored this night with the TMA’s oldest and most notable award, and that is the Winzeler Award. Winzeler Award recipients have been many since it was established in 1971, but this fact does not take away from the importance of it by any means. Jim Hommer joins a list of very highly esteemed industry professionals, each of whom has demonstrated sincere passion and dedication to the TMA and to the manufacturing industry.

“It was no surprise that he won the award whatsoever,” Kent Gladish, TMA’s marketing director who also serves as the Winzeler Award Committee’s liaison, says. “Longevity within the TMA is an important element in the decision-making process and Jim’s been an active member for more than 40 years. The committee, which is made up of past Winzeler Award recipients, also spends a tremendous amount of time looking at each candidate’s character. In the case of Jim Hommer, there’s no question that he has served honorably.”

Hommer began his career in manufacturing with an apprenticeship at a moldmaking company owned by a friend of his father’s. He also enrolled in theory classes at the TMA. Through his early years he held various positions including mold designer, tool steel salesman, and manufacturing management—each job he held helped him gain the experience needed to start his own mold components manufacturing company, Hommer Tool, in 1983. In addition to teaching moldmaking classes at TMA for five years, Jim spent seven years working his way through the chairs on the board of directors and served as its Chairman in 2001. He also served on the TMA’s program and entertainment committee for several years and later, after leaving the TMA board, he earned his NIMS auditor certification and spent time promoting the trades in high schools and community colleges.

I happened to work at the TMA for two years and during that time Jim was serving on the board of directors. I will never forget the day I had the chance to participate in a tour of his facility. As Jim escorted us through, each attendee was given two small blocks of steel. At each stop on the tour, we placed our blocks into a machining center and watched as they were transformed, quickly and precisely, into keepsake candlesticks. As the machines did their work, Jim and his employees explained what they were doing and how. It was fascinating! I still have those candlesticks and I told Jim that when I saw him at the TMA Annual Meeting. As he intended, that tour really made an impact on me, plus it showed how amazing and cool manufacturing is.

“Who would have thought that I would spend 50+ years doing something that I truly love,” Jim told me. “And I do still love this industry.”

The Winzeler Award is presented each year by John Winzeler, president and owner of Winzeler Gear. John’s grandfather, Johnny Winzeler, is the award’s namesake.

 

 

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