I have worked in the mold-making trade going on 20 years (not counting summers and younger years of cleaning the machines and sweeping the floors), and have watched good times along with bad times. My parents started a tool shop in 1978 and a manufacturing facility in 1990. I quote tooling, piece part pricing, assembly, etc.
I will never see the day when molds are all built here again. We never pushed toward new people getting into the trade. This starts with the business owners lobbying with local schools. I saw all tool shops use this as an excuse.
The only way we can compete abroad is to have better prices. The only way to beat the prices is to get rid of overtime in the particular job. We need tool shops that will work three shifts. This will knock out the overtime pay and will get the job done three times as fast. How do we do this now? If you happen to be a tool shop with 18 or more workers, get adjusted to three shifts as soon as possible.
The main issue now is that we don't have enough work and we also do not have apprentices getting into the trade. I understand that there are other issues involved, but we need to deal with not only today but also tomorrow and so on.
There was a lot of money to be made with a tool shop in the past, but we have cheated ourselves. This was a trade where a person could make money with common sense and not college degrees. We taught the design industry how to make software to help get rid of common sense. I have only met a few mold makers that I would consider very intelligent; the rest of us learned from experience and dedication, including myself.
I think about this trade everyday and it really hurts because I have a passion for this industry. This passion is indescribable, but unfortunately for a large amount of people it has become unbearable.
Hartlage Manufacturing Inc.