A search for a company of her own to buy began —specifically a converter. One of PMA's founders, Jay Meili, was looking to sell Molded Dimensions so he could retire, and in 2001 Katz became its owner and CEO. Her husband also works there. "I own 63 percent of the company, and the employees own the remaining 37 percent," she said. "Molded Dimensions is proud to be both woman-owned and employee-owned."
There are about 90 employees at the facility in Port Washington, Wis., where they make both cast polyurethane and rubber parts for about 350 different customers, Katz said. Two thirds of the staff are involved in hands-on production, and more than a third of these are women.
"Our customers are spread out over industries including medical, marine, mining and motorcycles," she said. And a couple of years ago, they also bought KM Tooling, which makes some of the molds they use for casting, and produces them for other companies, too.
She describes the business as stable, and many of the customers have been ordering the same parts for 20 or more years. They have also been putting a huge focus on improving efficiency in recent years, by driving out variation, making production easier for workers, and getting rid of scrap.
"We're really proud of our new product introduction process," she said. "When someone comes to us with a print, we aim to roll it out first time."
The timescale will vary on the part's complexity, but 10 to 12 weeks is normal, and she said that six to eight weeks can be possible. Reorders typically take four weeks, but for some companies they will hold inventory of cast parts so they are ready to ship.
With Molded Dimensions having been there at the start of PMA, it's perhaps unsurprising that Katz soon got involved herself.
"We feel really strongly that our industry is very collaborative," she said. This was evident at the Vancouver meeting. "On my table at breakfast, two companies were discussing a problem one of them was having with cleaning a particular type of mold — they were happy to flat-out share what they do."