The Industry Bids Farewell to Tony Sikorcin, Founder of Craftsman Tool and Mold
On Saturday, October 28, the industry lost a friend and colleague in Tony Sikorcin, founder of Craftsman Tool and Mold.
On Saturday, October 28, the industry lost a friend and colleague in Tony Sikorcin, founder of Craftsman Tool and Mold. He was 83.
Tony started Craftsman Tool & Mold Co. as a mold manufacturing business in Franklin Park, Illinois, in 1965. He had 10 employees back then. According to a press release the company issued, Tony first began working in the tool and die making industry when he took a job as a tool grinder and tool technician. When he later moved from tool grinding to running a Keller Duplicating machine, he realized his love of the trade and his desire to run his own business.
In 1973, Craftsman was one of the founding members of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) along with several other Chicago area shops including my father, Alan Petrucci’s company B A Die Mold Inc. My dad new Tony well. “He was still in Franklin Park at the time we launched the AMBA, running his moldmaking business from a small facility a lot like the one I first had in Downers Grove, Illinois,” my dad told me. “Tony was a reserved person, and a good man.”
Little did Tony know that his investment in a Cincinnati Hydrotel milling machine would change the course of Craftsman as a company. Its travels were large enough to build dashboards and headlight fixtures for the automobile industry, and this capability drew other moldmakers who needed large mold bases from all over the USA to Craftsman. For Tony, this was a sign that the industry was lacking a company that specialized in large custom mold bases. He soon had a new business plan and niche within the moldmaking industry that remains intact today. As a result, Craftsman Tool and Mold grew, and quickly outgrew the facility in Franklin Park. Craftsman moved into a 40,000-square-foot building in Aurora, Illinois, in 1986.
Scott Smith, director of sales at Craftsman, shared this story from that time: Moving costs and the pouring of concrete foundations took longer than anticipated during the move. Bills were coming in, but no work was going out. The Eastman Kodak Company out of Rochester, New York, contacted Tony looking for a custom mold-base builder for its Disc Camera product line. “One of the project managers at Kodak had seen a Craftsman calendar hanging on the wall of one of their customers,” Smith says. “The capacity to make a large mold base was just what Kodak needed. Tony would always say that ‘Kodak came just in time.’”
Personally, I remember the Kodak Disc Camera project because my father was one of several shops in the area that built molds for various parts of the camera, and I still have my own disc camera to boot. “That job was considered top secret at the time, so they spread out the mold building work so that no one really knew for sure what the finished product was going to look like,” my dad told me. “Tony built the mold bases and B A built the molds for the front panel of the disc camera.” I asked my dad if perhaps it was at his shop that the Kodak tooling manager saw the Craftsman calendar, but he didn't know, saying,“All I know is that Tony decided he wanted to be a mold base manufacturer and Craftsman has become one of the best.”
Craftsman now has 43 employees under the leadership Tony’s son Wayne Sikorcin, president. “I feel so honored to have been able to work alongside my dad in our family business,” Wayne says. “I will miss sharing my day’s victories and also the struggles with him. He always understood where I was coming from.”
Tony is survived by his loving wife, Ramona (Toni) of Boynton Beach, Florida; his sister June Tate; his children, Shirley (Brian) Yagoda, Glenn (Tammy) Sikorcin, Wayne (Laura) Sikorcin and (James) Schultz; his grandchildren, Kylie, Jared, Allyse, Dominique, Tyler, Cheyenne, Luke, Abby, Emma, and Jack; his “adopted” granddaughter, Joan Bowen; his great-grandchild, Skylar and his nieces, Lynda and Laurie Delaforgue. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Sue Schultz.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to iWarriors.org, in support of our wounded warriors in the military (please write “Tony Sikorcin Memorial” in the memo section). Donations may also be made to St. Croix Valley Foundation, 516 Second St., Suite 214, Hudson, WI 54016.