For more than 90 years the Janiszewski family has done business under the “Superior” name, today working out of a 135,000-square-foot building in Oak Creek, Wis., as Superior Die Set Corp.
Nick Janiszewski, an information systems and product engineer, described the business's roots:
“The story of Superior Die Set begins with Kasimir Janiszewski, an ethnic Pole living in what was at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the early 1900s Kasimir left Poland to start a new life in the land of opportunity — the United States of America. He entered the U.S. via the Port of New York in 1910 at the age of 22. His original destination was Poughkeepsie, N.Y. — and his profession was listed on the oceanliner manifest as simply “smith.” When asked his specialty, he replied, ‘What specialty makes the most money?' The answer was ‘tool and die maker.' And so it was that Kasimir entered the field of tool and die.”
In 1923, Kasimir Janiszewski — along with two partners — created Superior Tool and Die, a business that would over the years evolve to become Superior Die Set Corp. SDSC manufactures die sets, mold bases and other components for the stamping, molding and forging industries. The business employs 200 and is today helmed by members of the third generation of Janiszewskis: Casimir S. Janiszewski, CEO, and Frank Janiszewski, president. Fourth-generation Janiszewskis Nick, Steve, Kathryn and Jacob hold roles in the business as well.
Working in a family business, “advantages almost go hand-in-hand with disadvantages,” Nick Janiszewski said. “It's nice seeing family members every single day. You can have lunch together, you can shake hands, talk, laugh — and can also occasionally argue, hold grudges, be frustrated. Like any situation where you consistently see and interact with the same people every day, you have to learn to compromise, appreciate imperfections, empathize, negotiate difference in opinion and work as a team.”
Family members interested in joining the company generally start out in an entry-level position, he said. Nick Janiszewski, his brother Steve and his cousin Jacob started at the company in their teens. His cousin Kathryn lived in California for several years before returning to Wisconsin a few years ago, and today works as a customer and product support representative.
“The balance of the education about how things work here at Superior Die Set happens by putting in the hours — doing the hard work, getting the years of experience, and listening to and learning from the ‘history lessons' taught to the younger generations by their elders,” Nick Janiszewski said.
Preparing for future growth, SDSC in the past two years has invested heavily in new equipment to take advantage of state-of-the-art machining capabilities, as well as implementing lean manufacturing practices, he said. And members of the fourth generation recently started meeting with an industrial psychologist to each develop and execute a personal plan intended to prepare them to become the next generation of leaders.
“There are things that each of us has as far as strengths and weaknesses, and that's the whole plan of it, to identify those and pump up the strengths and work on the weaknesses,” he said.
SDSC has three subsidiaries: Greendale Precision Services, a producer of precision components for the stamping and molding industries and key supplier to SDSC; FCPK Bytow, with two manufacturing locations in Poland; and Superior International Resources, FCPK's conduit to sell components to SDSC and a few OEMs in the United States.