CORONADO, CALIF. — Bill Kushmaul issued a warning about the mold-making industry's vulnerability in the United States when he accepted the 1998 Western Plastics Award and during an interview.
``Mold making is being threatened in the U.S.,'' said Kushmaul, president of Tech Mold Inc. of Tempe, Ariz. As ``communications and the world get smaller, the labor dollar recedes and overseas technology improves.
``The Far East wants the majority of our business in 10 years,'' he said. ``They intend to steal what we do for a living.''
Kushmaul sees few new U.S. mold-making shops. The typical business fails to survive the original entrepreneurs, and ``big companies can't run mold shops.''
Mold makers can delay erosion by reinvesting in the business to stay current with technology, Kushmaul said, adding, ``Any company with a shrinking mentality is mistaken.''
Mold makers ``must benchmark what is going on in the U.S. and the rest of the world and try to stay involved in those technologies.''
Kushmaul ``anchors himself in a strong belief of continual improvement,'' Michael Smith said in presenting the award at the kick-off dinner for the Western Section of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. conference, held May 14-16 in Coronado. Smith, who chaired the awards selection committee, is western region general manager for Husky Injection Molding Systems Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif.
``He is paternalistic and passionate about his craft and willing to expend his effort and resources to many as a mentor in developing their skills,'' Smith said. ``This concern for the development of his employees and the future leaders of the plastics industry is evidenced by his thinking in the watershed publication, What is a Mold?''
Kushmaul guided creation of a seminar and a book on mold making and has encouraged educational, training and standards-setting efforts in the industry.
At a February dinner in Tucson, Ariz., Kushmaul received the SPI Moldmakers Division's Distinguished Service Award. He was a division director from 1977-1989. In March, he began a one-year term as a director of the American Mold Builders Association.
Kushmaul jointly owns the mold-making firm with Tech Group Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tech Mold was founded in 1972, makes high-cavity molds primarily for medical and high-technology uses and operates 10 injection presses for prototypes and related projects. Tech Mold employs 127 and makes extensive use of computer numerically controlled equipment.