2013 Leadtime Leader Award Winners

Through this year’s Awards—presented by MMT and Progressive Components—we honor two outstanding mold manufacturers who demonstrate excellence in overall innovation, efficiency, quality and commitment.
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Our 2013 Leadtime Leaders Are ...

Both companies excel in tight-tolerance, highly complex molds, use innovation to differentiate themselves, commit to acquiring current technology, focus on customer service and view employees as the key to success. However, they are each unique and have quite a story to tell. You can see their full features in the June issue, but here I’d like to share some of the people behind how these mold manufacturers arrived to where they are today.

There is much behind the success of this year’s winner, but it began with one man. In 1972, Bill Kushmaul started Tech Mold (Tempe, AZ) with a Bridgeport, a grinder and a few basic hand tools. By the early 1980s, Tech Mold was building molds for some leading, up-and-coming industries, who then depended upon Tech Mold to engineer and manufacture innovative, high-volume molds.  To remain successful Tech Mold needed to be flexible, and so when offshoring began Tech Mold found new customers in new markets, which landed the company as a leader with Fortune 100 companies in medical disposables, consumer products and packaging.  Next Tech Mold began to heavily invest and integrate engineering and manufacturing technologies, but a major challenge became the “business” of moldmaking. Kushmaul explains, “Most of us who started these companies many years ago had minimal business skills, so making the transition from a technical person to a business person wasn’t easy. We had to fight our way through and hire the right people to do what we couldn’t. I learned to trust people with their jobs, yet have systems in place to verify the results.” This journey has led Tech Mold to the Leadtime Leader title.

Our 2013 Honorable Mention shop was founded by a dynamic duo. Tim Katen and Dave Mead started Micro Mold Company, Inc. (Erie, PA) in November 1978 with a focus on manufacturing technically demanding, high quality plastic injection molds. They both poured their life savings into the business and officially launched the company in a 1,400-square foot, rented garage. Initially the company could not afford heat or a phone line, and was hit by the 1980s recession and sky-high interest rates. However, they stayed committed to excellence in service, advanced engineering and conservative fiscal management, which allowed the shop to grow and make a name for itself. Then came more employees and advanced machining equipment; sampling services and initial production requests resulting in the purchase of an injection molding machine that launched sister company, Plastikos in 1989. When offshoring began, Micro Mold honed in on the medical and electronic connector industries to survive. In 2009, Tim and Dave retired and passed the reins to second-generation owners, Ryan and Philip Katen, and Rob Cooney, who pushed the company pursue new technologies and industries. A track record that has landed them this year’s Honorable Mention title.

Don’t forget this year’s winner and honorable mention will be honored at an Awards Ceremony at the amerimold Expo (amerimoldexpo.com) in Rosemont, IL, on Wednesday, June 12th at 5:00pm. You can also visit Tech Mold at Booth # 728 and Micro Mold at Booth # 130. Be sure to register today to be a part of this industry event and celebrate these Award recipients!