I have worked in the mold-making trade going on 20 years (not counting summers and younger years of cleaning machines and sweeping floors), and I've watched good times along with bad.
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. 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 issues now are we don't have enough work nor do we have apprentices. I understand there are other issues, but we need to deal with not only today but also tomorrow.
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, even though most of us learned toolmaking through experience and dedication.
I think about this trade every day, and it really hurts because I have a passion for it.
Hartlage Manufacturing Inc.