Partnering for Success: One Builds, The Other Repairs

A moldmaker and a shop that specializes in mold repair/engineering unite their specialties to increase capabilities and compete globally.


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What do you get when you combine a leading automotive plastic injection mold builder with a shop that specializes in mold repair and engineering changes? A partnership that fills the needs of both the mold builder H S Die & Engineering, Inc. (Grand Rapids, MI) and Easley, SC-based mold services provider United Tool & Mold Inc. (UTM)—allowing each company to focus on what each does best. Together, they can offer their customers increased capabilities and strengthen their positions in today’s world market.

Four years ago, Kent Hanson, general manager of H S Die & Engineering, Inc. and Scott Phipps, president of United Tool & Mold, Inc., met at an AMBA convention. Upon discovering that several of H S Die’s competitors had moved down south near UTM’s facility, Hanson decided to explore the possibility of UTM performing mold repairs and small engineering changes.

In exchange, if UTM was asked to build a tooling package, H S Die would quote and build the molds, then ship them to UTM, who would then support the molds. A sales rep from H S Die visits the area on an almost monthly basis, with office space in UTM’s facility. And—on occasion—a UTM employee will visit H S Die to collaborate on a mold build. So far, the collaboration is working out beautifully.


Starting Out

It may be hard to imagine partnering with another mold shop, but Phipps maintains it can only strengthen the resolve of all U.S. moldmakers to survive in today’s globally competitive marketplace. “The guys across town are not your competition anymore—it’s the guys over in China, Korea, Portugal, Germany, etc.,” Phipps states. “Look at it from a global perspective: We all need to pull together and learn how to take the foreign competitors on ourselves. We all specialize in separate things, so get to know each other’s specialties and build a solid team (see Collaboration Pays Off Sidebar). Trust each other because trust is key. Respect each other and be open-minded.”

Hanson couldn’t agree more. “You should find people you are comfortable enough to work with and trust all throughout the U.S.,” he urges. “If I have a guy on the road in Ohio and there is a molder that wants to make a change or repair, I use my AMBA contacts to see if one of my mold technicians can go to a local shop so the job can get running, to avoid added time and logistic problems.”

Working Together

So, how can a moldmaker go about building this level of trust that exists between UTM and H S Die? As Hanson mentioned above, joining a moldmaking association like the AMBA can help to develop contacts and foster relationships. He urges touring prospective shops before entering into a collaborative effort. While he and Phipps started their relationship with a gentleman’s agreement and a handshake, both companies have signed an Ethics Agreement (see Ethics Agreement below) developed by Hanson to seal the deal.

HS Die and UTM work together on pricing concerns so that each job will allow for both companies to give the best pricing for their respective customers. “It is a mutually beneficial relationship,” Hanson notes. Phipps adds that it isn’t difficult to get a sense of how a shop operates by looking at its customers and the shop’s reputation in the marketplace. “I had a sense of Kent’s ethics and values when I first met him,” Phipps notes, “which was reflected in H S Die’s work. We are truly a team.”

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