Helm Tool Co. Inc. has specialized in building injection molds and die-cast dies, for the last 28 years. For the past eight years, we have had various sizes of molding machines, to do our own sampling and run production.
In all these years there have been many ups and downs. But what is happening in our industry, the exporting of our technology and manufacturing jobs, is something that I and many people I know cannot comprehend. Why are our leaders so nearsighted, almost insane, to let this happen, to sell our country for their political and financial gain?
The fact is, our Fortune 500 companies make lots of money all over the world, while our country does not see much of it. By moving their manufacturing elsewhere, these companies are forcing our small businesses to close up because of lack of work.
All of us are in the same boat. To survive we must do something now, before we end up on the street like so many other companies.
We must force China to stop manipulating its currency. We must stop giving incentives to companies to outsource. We must stop others from importing to the United States. We export to these countries and have to pay as much as eight to 10 times more import duty or we cannot even meet their imposed regulations.
We need to equalize our trade imbalance. We need to work on NAFTA to equalize our monetary system so that we can trade on a one-to-one level.
As for my company, we have been able to survive these difficult times so far. My employees and I will do whatever is possible to survive. I believe in having as many customers as possible to deal with, and to treat each one as if they were my only customer.
My company has focused on one particular area for tools and worked to become one of the top mold builders in that industry. We at Helm Tool have always looked ahead to better ourselves, educate and cross-train employees, to stay with the trend of technology, purchase machinery to build and make ever-more-complicated tooling. We've purchased machinery to take the labor out of production and to offset the enormous difference in wages compared to low-cost countries.
Some of my friends said I was crazy for buying all this expensive equipment and going out on a limb. Maybe, but if I had not modernized when I did, Helm might not be in business today.
Now the important part will be to have enough work. Perhaps we need to go out to trade shows in foreign countries to find new customers.
With our knowledge and equipment we are capable of competing with some of the lower-paying countries, especially in our niche market. As long as we can make a product that is performing well, and lead our competition, we should have a fair chance at success in the future.
Mueller is the owner of Helm Tool Co. Inc., an Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based toolmaker.