Molding Promising Careers in Moldmaking

Three young moldmaker apprentices shine at the AMBA Chicago Chapter’s Mold Your Career Award night.


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Korey Popko is the 2018 recipient of the Mold Your Career Award, which is sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA). Korey and two other shining examples of moldmaking apprenticeship were honored during the chapter’s February 1st dinner meeting. 

The Mold Your Career Award is part of the AMBA Chicago’s ongoing mission to promote careers in moldmaking. Chapter President Chuck Klingler of Janler Corp. told the more than 60 attendees, “We need to offer more plant tours and open our doors to invite young students and their parents in. People won’t know how great it is to work in our industry until they see it with their own eyes. Our education committee is working on a new marketing plan—a real marketing plan—that will help promote careers in moldmaking more than we already have.” He added that he’s been noticing signage put out by the electricians, carpenters and plumbers unions, all promoting job opportunities. “They’re using our slogan, “Earn While You Learn,” he said. “We need to work harder to make our presence known and lure people in to show them that our industry offers that and so much more.”

Klingler then proceeded to tell attendees about the three young men who have begun careers in moldmaking and were nominated for the Mold Your Career Award by their respective bosses. Here’s more about each nominee.

  • Peter Elgeness has worked at PM Mold in Schaumburg, Illinois, for about 18 months. He currently works on EDM wire and sinker EDM machining and has also learned to use Mastercam software. Peter’s boss says he is hard-working and does whatever it takes to get the machines running unattended. He has become a very valuable part of the PM Mold team.
  • Korey Popko has worked at Do-Rite Die and Engineering for 18 months. He had no prior experience in moldmaking when he started his apprenticeship. Korey is currently enrolled in the Technology and Manufacturing Association’s (TMA) Theory for Mold Making class, driving from his home in Cedar Lake, Indiana, to Schaumburg, Illinois, to attend his classes. Korey has completed Math II and III, print reading and Machine Tool Technology, receiving an A in each course. Within a year, Korey successfully fit and assembled a four-cavity complete die case die for a transmission fork. His boss says he is very energetic and willing to learn, and he has proven to be a good team player.
  • Josh Salinas is also an apprentice at PM Mold, and started about 18 months ago. He began his apprenticeship in July 2016, learning how to use Mastercam and training on multiple CNC machines. He currently works as a CNC operator and also in programming. Josh’s boss says he is keeping 30 percent of the company’s CNC machines running unattended 24/7.

Each nomination was reviewed by the AMBA Chicago’s board of directors, Klingler said. The board members did not know the names of the three young men nor the companies they worked for until after the winner was selected. 

As the winner of this year’s Mold Your Career Award, Korey Popko received an award certificate and a $1,000 gift card from the AMBA Chicago Chapter. He will use it to purchase tools for his career from Quality Tools and Abrasives (QTA) in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, which will offer him a generous discount. Peter Elgeness and Josh Salinas each received a $100 gift card.