Before lasers and robotics took over the detailed work, mold makers like John Hill’s father and uncle had to be much more exacting. “Now,” says the Macomb alum and second-generation tool and die maker, “the art of it is about coming in on budget and on time.”
As president and CEO of Midwest Mold in Roseville, Hill practices what he preaches, which has allowed him to build a successful manufacturing business in less than hospitable economic times. Not bad for someone who once swept floors in a tool and die shop, until a foreman pointed out a certain irony: “Why are you going to school for (HVAC) when you are already learning this?” And, says Hill, “the rest is history.”
That same foreman steered Hill toward an apprenticeship through Macomb’s Applied Technology Program, which the Warren Mott High School graduate followed up with work as a journeyman mold maker, foreman, plant manager and engineering manager. Then, in 1994, he opened his own business, something he had wanted to do since he was 15. He credits his and his company’s success to two important lessons he learned early on.
Pointing to the work Midwest has done for General Motors and Chrysler and to a modest run of 250 parts for a small distributor with equal pride, Hill notes, “I learned how important it is to diversify.” And, he also learned that the “families” on his payroll are the backbone of his company. “I can always buy new machines” says Hill, “but good people are irreplaceable.”