Mark G. Sellers, 61, is in his 33rd year as CEO heading MGS Manufacturing Group Inc.
Sellers grew up on the Northwest Side of Milwaukee with one brother and one sister.
During his years at James Madison High School, Sellers participated in a cooperative work program at a pharmacy.
“I worked with two brothers, Al and Mel Altman, at Bradley Village Pharmacy in Brown Deer, Wis.,” he said. “Both were terrific mentors and great guys to work for, and they taught me the value of sound business practices. In fact, I am still in contact with them to this day.”
As a youth, Sellers was involved with Junior Achievement gaining knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.
Sellers' most unusual and labor-intensive job was working at a produce farm. He hoed with one hand, de-tasseled corn stalks with the other and pulled weeds.
“I held the job for two months during my high school summer break,” he said. “That was the only job I had that was worse than roofing my first home.”
Sellers' first job in the plastics industry was at a Milwaukee company in the medical industry.
“I was hired as a tool, die and mold making apprentice right out of high school,” Sellers recalled. “Once I started in the plastics industry, Al Peterson, the toolroom supervisor, was a great mentor, motivator and teacher.”
The apprenticeship included attending engineering-related classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
“Last but not least” among Sellers' motivators were “my mom and dad. She was the business and family guide, and he taught me to have an excellent work ethic.”
Sellers worked in several mold making businesses en route to becoming an entrepreneur.
Technically, Sellers became CEO when he with partners started a business known as Moldmakers Inc. in 1982 in Butler, Wis.
At first, “I didn't think of myself as a CEO,” he said. “I owned the company along with two partners, and we were all responsible for its success.”
Moldmakers relocated around 1985-1986 to Menomonee Falls, Wis., a since expanded site still in use.
The firm established a technical center and corporate headquarters in Germantown, Wis., in 1995 and began the transition to the MGS Manufacturing Group identity in 1996, eventually bringing multiple operating entities under one umbrella.
Even after many years as a CEO, Sellers' mindset remains, “I work with people; people don't work for me. No one person's job is any more important than anyone else's.”
His first goal as CEO “was to surround myself with good, trustworthy, hard-working people,” he said. “You're only as good as the people around you.”
Sellers describes the culture at MGS as “one of trusted, empowered and free-thinking people who respect one another and work in teams to get the job done. We encourage employees to be the best that they can be as an individual, but to understand that every project of significant scope needs a well-tuned team behind it. This mindset has worked well for our company.”
From the CEO's perspective, “MGS is a first-line engineering house. We provide innovative, high-end technical services that haven't been done before.”
MGS continues to increase its capabilities on the basis of its customers' needs.
“To meet the needs of the healthcare industry, for example, we've expanded our clean room production facilities,” he said.
In the Germantown molding facility, MGS has ISO Class 8 clean rooms of 15,000 and 6,500 square feet. Other clean rooms are in the Antioch, Ill., and Leixlip, Ireland, facilities.
“We have improved our quality management systems with the addition of a 5,000-square-foot two-story quality lab that houses various metrology equipment, including a computed tomography X-ray imaging machine,” known as a CT scanner, he noted.
MGS operates 12 facilities occupying a total of 660,000 square feet in Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Mexico, Ireland and China. Six focus on plastics processing; two on mold making including one with nine sampling presses; one on automation solutions; another on proprietary Universal Multishot Systems equipment manufacturing; one on distribution services; and one for Asian sales and service of Multishot equipment.
The company has more than 240 injection molding presses with clamping forces of 28-880 tons and 42 computerized numerical control machining centers including automated and individually programmed mills, grinders, lathes and coordinate measuring machines.
MGS employs about 1,450 including 30 product designers and about 100 with tool making duties. Ninety are in hands-on roles, and 10 perform engineering managerial liaison functions.
For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the business reported sales of about $210 million. Molding was 75 percent of the volume, tooling 17 percent and equipment 8 percent.
By end market, healthcare accounted for about 45 percent of the sales. Electronics was 22 percent, automotive 18 percent, consumer 8 percent and industrial 7 percent.
Sellers has three messages for a new employee at MGS:
• If you're prepared to tell someone what you are going to do, you better do it and do it well.
• Look at the success of the company and find your place to excel.
• If you do the job alone, it will be a lonely life.
Regarding career advice he has received, Sellers says: “Treat people like you want to be treated, and surround yourself with people who work off of each other's strengths and who rely on one another to succeed.”
Other advice he was given:
• Get partners or mentors or both.
• Have strong business values but stronger family values.
• Surround yourself with people who work off of each other's strengths and who rely on one another.
• Do what you do best and find smart people to do the rest. Work with people who excel in doing what needs to be done, and trust them to do it.
• Never stop training; it is your future.
As far as his legacy, “I want people to remember me as a faithful man who kept his word and had his employees' best interests in mind,” Sellers said. “Being a successful CEO is important, but even more significant to me is being remembered as a decent human being who did his best and had a good heart.”