The American Mold Builder Issue 3 2022

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ISSUE 3 2022 THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION AMBA LAUNCHES WORK CAPACITY TOOL Moldmakers Turn to 3D Metal Printing Reducing Risk as a Mold Builder HR Challenges in the Industry

With a shortage of highly skilled mold builders and maintenance technicians, standard components help to make building and running tools more straightforward: • Off-the-shelf Stack Mold and Plate Sequencing • Removable from parting line side action items • Mold monitoring system alerts PM actions due Don’t build the same old, same mold. Contact the Progressive team at 1-800-269-6653 to discuss new innovations for tools that will go the distance. MAXIMIZE NEWNEWSTANDARDSCOMPLEXPRODUCTIVITYTOOLS?SIMPLIFY!PRODUCTS:PROCOMPS.COM/NEWCATALOG:PROCOMPS.COM/V14 Turning 25 years of experience into state-of-the-art training Online Injection Molding Training for Part Designers, Mold Designers and Process Engineers •Interactive Online Training •Vir tual Reality Training •Spanish•Certificationlanguage lessons •Seminars / Webinars •Industry Partner Programs Trust the Kruse name for innovative CAE simulation services and state-of the-art training NEW: 10 Molding Process Development lessons

4 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 Speak Out ................................................. 6 Association ............................................. 16 Product .................................................... 26 Industry ................................................... 34 Calendar .................................................. 46 Ad Index .................................................. 46 ISSUE 3 2022 THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION AMBA LAUNCHES WORK CAPACITY TOOL Moldmakers Turn to 3D Metal Printing Reducing Risk as a Mold Builder HR Challenges in the Industry ISSUE 3 2022 8 OPERATIONS Why Moldmakers are Turning to 3D Metal Printing 12 OUTLOOK Reducing Risks as a Mold Builder: Renegotiating Contract Terms and Conditions 20 SOLUTIONS Onboarding and Training Are the Third Steps in Workforce Development 24 BENCHMARKING AMBA Hones Competitive Edge for US Mold Builders with Shop Rate Data | 8 28 INSURANCE CORNER Why Can’t We Be Like Cars? 31 ADVOCACY A 2022 Red Hot Summer 36 STRATEGIES Five Common HR Challenges in the Plastics Industry 43 CAPACITY AMBA Launches New Work Capacity Tool 45 TALENT Industry Leader Shares Key Insights 36 AMERICAN MOLD BUILDERS ASSOCIATION 7321 Shadeland Station Way, #285 Indianapolis, IN 46256 P: 317.436.3102 F: 317.913.2445 • AMBA TEAM Troy Nix, Executive Director Kym Conis, Managing Director Susan Denzio, Business Manager Rachael Pfenninger, Director of Strategic Execution Advising Editor: Kym Conis Advertising/Sales: Susan Denzio PUBLISHED BY: 2150 SW Westport Dr., Suite #101 Topeka, KS 66614 P: Vice785.271.5801President,Editorial: Dianna Brodine Editor: Lindsey Munson Vice President, Design: Becky Arensdorf Graphic Designer: Hailey Mann Opinions expressed in this publication may or may not reflect the views of the Association and do not necessarily represent official positions or policies of the Association or its members. Cover courtesy of Todd Schuett, Creative Technology Corp.

6 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 DON DUMOULIN AMBA President Precise Tooling Solutions A MESSAGE FROM THE AMBA PRESIDENT OFFICERS National President Don Dumoulin, Precise Tooling Solutions Immediate Past-President Jim Sperber, Master Tool & Mold Vice TylerPresidentVanRee,Legacy Precision Molds


David Bowers II, JMMS, Inc. Charles Daniels, Wepco Plastics Ed Francis, Crystallume Dan Glass, Strohwig Industries Eric Karaman, Michiana Global Mold Chad LaMance, United Tool & Mold Andy Peterson, Industrial Molds Group John Stocker, Swiss Steel USA Hillary Thomas, Westminster Tool

Ihope the heat of the summer is translating to solid business gains for all our members. Your AMBA is focused on doing all we can to help the industry by providing innovative programs and tools to help you gain and source business, and ensure Washington is on our side. I’ll address these three in this update.

First, the Sales Process Forum on September 22 will focus on best practices associated with the sales process, including new customer generation and cultivation of relationships with existing customers. Sign your sales team up today! In November, AMBA member iMFLUX will host a plant tour in Cincinnati, Ohio. You’ll want to be at this tour to see how the subsidiary of Procter & Gamble is using technology to change plastic molding and mold building. IMF has a fantastic story to tell. Additionally to help drive our businesses, we’ve just launched our innovative capacity tool on the AMBA website. This tool is designed for AMBA members to find other members that may have open capacity on machines or with staff. It allows all of us to share what excess capacity we have in our own operations. The best part – it’s our industry helping our members.

The AMBA staff continues to deliver impactful programming designed to help you build your people, build your business and understand the competitive environment. We had a terrific annual meeting in May with awe-inspiring speakers and a moving awards ceremony where Tom Barr and his company, TK Mold & Engineering were named Mold Maker of the Year. Importantly, Barr brought eight people from his company to the annual meeting. His guys were blown away by the programming offered. That evening, I challenged all owners to bring three to five young people to next year’s convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I promise it will be a great return on investment.

The annual meeting is just one of the programs the AMBA delivers regularly. Two other “wow” programs are coming up.

TreasurerTomBarr, TK Mold & Engineering OF DIRECTORS

Your AMBA is also fighting for fair tariffs and taxation in Washington. In late July, AMBA Executive Director Kym Conis and I testified before the Commissioners of the United States Trade Representative. During our testimony, we shared how important the current tariff structure is for our businesses and the helpful competitive position it puts us in against Chinabased competitors. Our Washington representative Omar Nashashibi has been focused on guiding language, beneficial to our industry, into the current China legislation and other important bills being worked on in Congress. Our industry is stronger because of Conis and Nashashibi’s work.

Finally, it’s important to note that many economists fear we are entering a challenging recession. Let’s hope it is short-lived and our robust economy regains its footing. But, even if it’s an ugly period, know that your AMBA will be fighting for every member. The team will develop programs to help us all weather the storm and make tools like the capacity tool available to assist us all.

We’re always anxious to hear ideas about how your AMBA can be even more valuable for you and your team. Please reach out to Kym Conis, Susan Denzio or Rachael Pfenninger anytime with ideas, needs or requests. Also, feel free to call or email me anytime. We’re all here to assist and to make your investment in AMBA deliver an even better ROI. Have a great summer and I look forward to seeing you soon. All the best! DDD

Secretary and Legal Counsel Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP

© 2022 INCOE® 07/22 For parts with shot sizes from a fraction of a gram to multiple kilograms, INCOE provides Hot Runner Technology solutions throughout the entire process — from engineering mold review and filling simulation to on-site technical support. Our global commitment is to be your Melt Logistics® partner — producing value in your process — and ultimately delivering satisfaction where it counts. Your Melt Logistics® partner for successful mold making North America | Europe | Asia | South America Member’sChoiceReceptionSponsor October5-7|Indianapolis,IN|Table#18

When EOS introduced the EOSINT 250 based on direct metal laser sintering in 1994, metal 3D printing was off to the races. Since then, the industry has grown to encompass various material extrusion, powder-bed fusion, hybrid powder-bed fusion and binder jetting systems.


According to recent market research1 from SmarTech Analysis (Crozet, VA), metal additive manufacturing grew last year by 16% to $3.9B. This growth brings rising opportunities that metal 3D printing technologies can offer to mold manufacturers. Metal (and plastic) additive manufacturing capabilities consistently are finding their way into mold manufacturing companies. At Mantle, the company has collaborated with a number of mold builders to learn more about how its technology can enable mold builders to simplify the mold building process and shorten lead times for prototype, bridge and production tooling. Some of their insights will be shared in this article

by Scott Kraemer, senior application engineer, Mantle, Inc. For Westminster Tool’s medical forceps mold, Mantle’s printed inserts held a tolerance of +/- 0.0015".


The Mantle process is a hybrid that combines material extrusion with subtractive machining. The equipment extrudes a paste containing metal particles in a liquid carrier, building a part layer-by-layer. As each layer of MOLDMAKERS ARE TURNING


In April, I moderated a session at the 2022 AMBA Conference with panelists Ray Coombs of Westminster Tool, Amanda Wiriya of Wepco Plastics and Mike McLean of Byrne Tool & Design to give attendees some perspective on additive manufacturing in general. For this article, I’d like to drill down into some of the questions routinely fielded about 3D metal printing for injection mold inserts using Mantle’s TrueShape process.

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Surface finishes of 1 to 3µm Ra often meet toolmakers’ requirements without the need for machining, meaning there is little to no post-processing required.

the paste is extruded, it is heated and dried to remove the liquid carrier. The insert then is machined immediately after each layer has been dried. This action refines the surface and enables the addition of features. After the part is printed and machined, it’s placed in a high-temperature furnace where the part is heated to just below its melting temperature. At this temperature, the metal particles fuse and the part sinters, resulting in a dense, strong metal part.

According to Westminster Tool’s manufacturing engineer, Eddie Graff, a traditional aluminum prototype tool would present difficulties in molding the highly glass-filled PA11. Graff designed the tool inserts to include conformal cooling channels to control the cavity temperature more

Integrated software coordinates all of these processes for automated tool path creation. In practice, this process has removed over 50% of the lead times required for both traditional and additive tool builds.

Earlier this year, another project required tooling inserts (core and cavity), so the team at Westminster could quickly mold medical forceps sample parts from a highly glass-filled, bio-based PA11 material from Arkema.

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Tessy Plastics has been running a production tool with Mantle inserts for over one year. The inserts have survived more than 1.25 million cycles to produce parts for deodorant packaging.

Other metal additive manufacturing processes rely on loose metal powders, lasers and electron beams. Several also rely on support structures that must be cut off and undergo a separate debinding step to eliminate the unwanted material. In contrast, the technology described here leads to tighter tolerances, better surface finishes and stable tool steels. For more detail, the full metal AM spectrum of technologies was compared in a blog post2 illustrating the benefits and limitations of each process specifically as related to tooling. While many of these technologies have found success in niche applications, the approach described above overcomes limitations regarding postprocessing, tolerances and surface finishes. |

In addition, the lack of skilled labor in toolmaking and other metalworking disciplines means that experienced toolmakers’ time is valuable. Having a system that automates tool path creation and reduces the number of steps required to produce a tool frees up senior technicians to work on more projects. Many customers believe using additive manufacturing will positively impact their current business models by enabling them to decrease lead times and increase volumes. Westminster Tool (Plainfield, Connecticut), for example, has just installed a Mantle unit in its facility after conducting numerous tests to prove its capabilities. In one such test, the team at Westminster was able to go from concept to first off tool (FOT) medical parts in three weeks. Being able to dial in the process ahead of production using the Mantle inserts was another benefit noted by the company. Because the steel inserts can handle the tough-to-mold material used in production, all molding parameters could be transferred to the production phase.


Westminster Tool performed the test mentioned above before installing its first system. It represents a great example of how inserts are utilized in an existing mold manufacturing environment.


During the 2022 AMBA conference session, all three panelists commented that additive manufacturing was more than simply a means to attract new business. They viewed it as an investment in their future. Various molders and mold builders have echoed this sentiment, seeing metal AM capabilities as a means of solving the challenges of reduced lead time, scarcity of highly skilled labor and finding a way to accommodate customers looking to reshore their tooling.

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10 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 effectively, which is critical to molding this particular Thematerial.printed inserts held a tolerance of +/- 0.0015”. Because they were made with H13 tool steel, the inserts allowed Westminster to add a sub gate so the company could mold thousands of parts without the risk of gate erosion.

Ron Natale, PLT co-owner, explained that it was a seamless experience and didn’t disrupt any of the processes in his shop. He needed no special tooling or alterations to the process because of the material. He reported that performance was consistent with conventional H13 across all machining and welding processes and outcomes, including surface appearance, machinability and performance.3

3. “Mantle to Showcase Three Case Study Collaborations at PTXPO and AMUG,” March 28, 2022, welding%20like%20tool%20steelat-ptxpo-and-amug/#:~:text=Machining%20and%20com/mantle-to-showcase-3-case-study-collaborations-https://www.mantle3d.

With this process and tool steels, tooling inserts can create prototype, bridge and production tools. A medical device manufacturer reduced the lead time for a prototype tool by eight weeks, which enabled it to accelerate product development. Tessy Plastics has been running a production tool that uses Mantle inserts for over one year, and the inserts have survived over 1.25 million cycles to produce parts for deodorant packaging. All molded parts have passed stringent quality inspection, and the mold continues in operation.



In addition, conformal cooling channels can be added to any prototype or production tool. These channels can dramatically reduce cycle times and facilitate the molding of challenging materials where precise temperature control is required.

For more information, visit

Precision Laser Technology (PLT) tested four bars printed in H13 tool steel. These tests demonstrated that machining, grinding and laser welding operations for the bars were equivalent to the same operations with traditional tool steel; they required no changes to the standard operations, and the results were equally successful. For grinding, before and after welding, the surface appearance was indistinguishable from conventionally manufactured H13. There was zero evidence of pitting, and there were no signs of wheel loading or heat generation.

References 1. “Additive Manufacturing Industry Grew 18 Percent in 2021 to $10.6B Reports SmarTech Analysis; Projects $50.8B By 2030,” April 5, 2022, 10-6b-reports-smartech-analysis-projects-50-8b-by-2030/additive-manufacturing-industry-grew-18-percent-in-2021-to-

2. “Not All Metal 3D Printing Technologies Are Alike,” June 10, 2021, technologies-are-alike/

Scott Kraemer is a senior application engineer at Mantle. He is passionate about toolmaking and has spent his career as a mold designer, tooling engineer and injection molding specialist at companies including Innatech, L&L Products and PTI Engineered Plastics. For the last eight years, Kraemer has been at the forefront of applying 3D printing technologies to the tooling industry and has worked with many leading metal and polymer 3D printers.

At Plastic Engineering & Technical Services, we are. We define performance. For nearly 30 years, we’ve helped our customers to produce more e ciently, with lower cycle times and lower per unit costs. Our new compact stainless steel, modular unitized system features exible heaters that can be utilized o n multiple designs, so you don’t have to stock custom bent heaters Our new drop heaters provide more uniform heating and feature smaller pockets and no clamps They have in-line ow restrictors for better process repeatability, and no over-pressurizing the cylinders. It all adds up to a reduced sized hot runner system, shorter heating times and better tool performance We deliver value. We complement our hardware with leading-edge analytical tools, including Mold ow® and MOLDEX3D so ware. We’ll work with you on design issues and optional gating solutions before the mold or hot runner manifold system is ever built. Use us for the mold ow analysis and the manifold build, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make your hot runner/manifold system work to your complete Wsatisfaction.e’recommitted to your success. Find out more. Call us today at 248.373.0800 or visit us at



As a mold builder, it is important to minimize risk to remain successful and profitable. This is no easy task – this requires knowledge of what risk areas to target, and how to best reduce each form of risk. The ability to avoid common costly pitfalls in contracting can help mold builders stay competitive in the industry and stable in their business financials. Below are five key risk areas to which every mold builder should pay attention when drafting a new agreement or renegotiating the terms and conditions of an existing contract.

Price adjustment clauses are contract terms that provide for the higher or lower pricing of goods, dependent upon certain conditions. These clauses mitigate uncertainty in pricing of commodities, as they can protect against financial exposure from price fluctuations. When executed properly, these clauses can insulate parties from costs resulting from inevitable market volatility. Price adjustment clauses can help foster long-term contractual relationships, as they minimize the need for future ongoing negotiations on the same pricing issues. Use of these clauses also can reduce the likelihood of contractual breach, as they embed a plan into the agreement to address how the terms of the exchange will shift to accommodate sudden changes in the market.

A lien is a legal right against another party’s assets that can be exercised to ensure fulfillment of an underlying debt or obligation. Mold builders may need to exercise their lien rights in cases of non-payment for materials or services rendered. Mold builders must ensure that their lien rights remain protected under any agreement into which they enter. Mold builders should familiarize themselves with the laws in their state governing mold builder lien rights to understand what measures can be pursued to secure payment for materials or services provided if needed. Often, a UCC financing statement must be filed for a mold builder to protect its lien rights. Mold builders also should be aware of and look out for the lien release agreement. A lien release is signing away the ability to exercise the mold builders’ lien rights, such that they may not pursue certain claims against the other party in the case of a future dispute. Any such release should be negotiated and, if agreed to in exchange for payment, should be written as narrowly as possible. Further, a lien release can incorporate certain conditional language to better protect the mold builder’s interest – i.e., conditioning release upon actual receipt of payment. Exceptions also can be written into release terms, which can help prevent the mold builders from learning that their rights have been waived at the moment when they need to exercise them.

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A warranty is a promise that a seller makes to a buyer about the quality and useability of the goods being sold. Under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), a set of laws that apply to all commercial transactions in the United States,


by H. Alan Rothenbuecher, partner, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP and Katie Berens, summer associate


In legal disputes, courts commonly hold price adjustment clauses enforceable in agreements between sophisticated parties. Generally, a sophisticated party is aware of and understands the bargain to which it is agreeing. Notably, parties may specify their status as sophisticated parties within the terms of their contract, which can further the likelihood of enforcement of a price adjustment provision in a case of dispute. Mold builders should utilize these terms in their agreements to minimize potential financial loss when facing a market downturn. Incorporating a price adjustment clause into the agreement likely will require some negotiation. Any such clause should include a defined price index designed to respond to material changes in the market. This clause should specify a maximum and minimum price range for the price adjustment.



When goods are transported between seller and buyer, certain logistics must be clarified to ensure a smooth transfer. Misunderstandings can present roadblocks in a transfer of goods that lead to surprise financial costs, as well as frustration and delay of business. Incoterms address this issue by establishing universal rules to clarify the responsibilities of each party to a transaction that involves the transport of goods. | page 14

certain warranties may be read into a contract – even though they are not expressly written in the agreement.

Mold builders can prevent future liability in a potential dispute by visibly disclaiming such warranties within any supply Commoncontract.implied warranties include merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. Merchantability is a guarantee that the molds sold will serve their ordinary purpose and satisfy the buyer’s reasonable expectations. Fitness for a particular purpose means that the mold will serve an intended purpose that is clear to both parties of the sale. Non-infringement is the assurance that the molds sold are not infringing upon existing intellectual property rights. Mold builders should ensure that they disclaim as many implied warranties as they can. To be upheld under the law, any disclaimer of implied warranties within a contract must be visible and obvious. If the wording is unclear or the term is hidden within the contract, it is more likely that a court will hold the disclaimer unenforceable in a dispute. Mold builders need to ensure that there will be no responsibility for any defects that occur beyond the actions in their control. Mold builders should put this safeguard into their contracts to protect against the risk of financial liability from a promise that was never expressly made.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) promulgated Incoterms in 1936 to promote clarity in commercial transactions and provides periodic updates to them to incorporate changes in trade practices. Incoterms clarify who is responsible for costs and management of each logistical step of a transaction, such as shipping, insurance, documentation and customs clearance, among Thereothers.are 11 Incoterms that may be used in trade contracts to allocate risk and responsibility. For example, EXW (Ex Works) provides protection to a seller by requiring the buyer to assume all risk and transportation costs. Under


The ability to avoid common costly pitfalls in contracting can help mold builders stay competitive in the industry and stable in their business financials.”

Misuse is when a molder uses the mold improperly, or for an incorrect purpose. Mishandling occurs when a molder uses the mold incorrectly or ineffectively. Similarly, improper storage is the exposure of the mold to conditions that damage its effectiveness because of the molder’s incorrect handling of the mold. Limitation of liability clauses also can be used to exclude forms of damages that can be sought in a potential lawsuit, such as consequential, incidental and punitive damages.

Lastly, mold builders should include limitation of liability clauses in their agreements to eliminate the risk of financial exposure for actions of the buyer. A limitation of liability clause limits a mold builder’s potential for exposure on a claim related to the molds. Include contract terms that say the mold builder will not be held responsible for any misuse, mishandling or improper storage by the customer.


Incoterms are optional – parties must opt into them by including the proper terms in their agreements, and those agreements must specify the version of Incoterms to which the parties are referring. Mold builders must be sure to use the right Incoterms within their contracts to minimize their risk in the shipment of molds to a buyer. Under the terms of an agreement, buyers should remain responsible for all that is in their control in a transaction. It is critical for sellers to select terms that only place risk upon the actions that they control.

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FCA (Free Carrier), the risk passes from the seller to the buyer at the agreed-upon point of delivery. FOB (Free on Board) means that the seller is obligated to deliver the goods on board a ship for the buyer.

Mold builders should incorporate clauses into their agreements that eliminate their liability for actions that are entirely within the buyer’s control, and that exclude these forms of damages from potential recovery in a lawsuit against them. Under the UCC, limitation of liability clauses must be clearly displayed in consumer contracts and easy to understand to be enforceable.

Mold builders should review their agreements and consider the extent of all clauses to protect against being held responsible for unforeseen consequences beyond their control as sellers.

Alan Rothenbuecher general counsel for the AMBA organization and a partner with the law firm of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP. Rothenbuecher concentrates his practice in the plastics industry and proactively addressing challenges faced by industry companies. For more information, contact Rothenbuecher at 216.363.4436, or

Three summertime benchmarking efforts have been completed by the AMBA Benchmarking team and are now available to the AMBA membership. The first is AMBA’s newest publication in its workforce development playbook series, Best Practices in Educator and Community Connections, which features a series of templates, resources and best practices that mold manufacturers can use to recruit next-generation employees. AMBA also has published, for the second year in a row, the Shop Rate Report, which illustrates the average shop rates across over 20 moldmaking and engineering services. Additionally,

AMBA published the 2022 Health and Benefits Report, with data on health, dental, vision, ancillary and retirement benefits, the report reviewed the utilization of new strategies to control healthcare dollars and contain costs. Reports are available only to AMBA members at

The American Mold Builders Association is excited to announce the launch of the AMBA Work Capacity Tool – an innovative resource now available to help mold manufacturers share and fill capacity when needed. Designed specifically for AMBA member shops, this online, members-only tool allows a mold builder to locate open capacity in over-capacity situations and conversely, fill open capacity when work is needed, thereby helping to fuel sustainability and growth. For more information, visit page 43 or

The AMBA Sales Process Forum, Schaumburg, Illinois, will return to an in-person format on Sept. 22, 2022, at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and will feature key industry insights from Ken Seawell, Sandler Training and Shelly Otenbaker, WayPoint Marketing Communications. During this interactive workshop experience, Seawell and Otenbaker will facilitate conversation on the “psychology of selling,” clarify its role in new business acquisition and marketing strategy and help attendees design and refine their personal sales strategies. For details, hotel and registration, visit


On November 10, 2022, AMBA will host its next inperson plant tour workshop at iMFLUX Inc., Hamilton, Ohio, “Automation and Fearless Innovation.” During the tour, iMFLUX will feature new technologies and recent investments related to mold estimating and scope development simulation, customer management, programming, tooling and much more. For details, visit 21 3

September 22, 2022 | Schaumburg, Illinois





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August 31, 2022 | Virtual AMBA has opened registration for its newest roundtable discussion, which will focus on challenges faced in operations and facility management. Like its other virtual roundtable discussions, peers in these functional areas will meet on camera to discuss topics such as efficiency, workflow and throughput, capital investment, time off/ vacation policies, training procedures and more. AMBA also has scheduled its next Sales and Marketing roundtable discussion for Sept. 13 at noon EST. Learn more and register for these roundtable discussions at www.AMBA. org/Events

In addition to its recent publications, AMBA has already launched its 2022 Wage and Salary Survey, which will be open to all US mold manufacturers. This year’s report will collect and analyze wage and salary information for over 50 job functions commonly found in mold building operations, as well as provide insight into vacation policies and other workforce-related benefits. Learn more at

On August 25, 2022, up-and-coming leaders in manufacturing will come together to hear from the Wise Plastics team as their top managers review past pitfalls in the workplace, provide an introduction to RACI principles (including responsibility and accountability) and review the role that team and individual accountability plays in leadership development and company-wide impact. This event is an interactive presentation and will include smallgroup interaction and all-group discussion. This will be the second session of “Perspectives from the Top,” a virtual series of leadership lessons and stories shared by manufacturing industry executives. The series features one session per month through the end of 2022. To join peers in mold building, plastics processing and rubber product manufacturing emerging in leadership, learn more and register for the series at THOMAS JOINS AMBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Xpress 7 Inc. 71070 US Highway 12 Dassel, Minnesota 55325 Blake Hendrickson, CEO/shop manager Phone: 320.275.2750 Email:


Sullivan Tool and Repair Inc. is a family-owned and -operated business established in 2002, specializing in custom injection molds. Sullivan provides class 101 tooling, performs repairs and has extensive experience with high-tolerance medical and automotive safety parts. The company offers nearly all services in-house, including full-mold design and construction, welding and polishing.

Nicolet Plastics is a full-service tooling manufacturer with additive manufacturing and injection molding capabilities of high-, medium- and low-volume custom plastics. The company is fast to solve problems and provide solutions, fluid to adapt to changing requirements and flexible to support its customers’ needs. Nicolet offers in-house tooling along with build management of domestic and international suppliers.

Hillary Thomas, vice president of Westminster Tool, Plainfield, Connecticut, rejoined the family business in 2017 after four years of working as a global sales consultant. Thomas’ experience in leading and promoting corporate change through training programs has aided Westminster Tool’s philosophy of hiring for character and training for skill. The company’s commitment to developing its own talent – and the resulting young workforce – in a highly skilled industry has created a unique set of challenges, which Thomas has been working to overcome with new programs and infrastructure to retain the team the company has built. She also led the partnership and integration of new additive technology within the organization. Thomas was instrumental in developing the AMBA Emerging Leaders network and served on the advisory board since its inception in 2019. Additionally, she has served on PLASTICS FLiP (future leaders in plastics) engagement committee and was a 2021 MoldMaking Technology 30 under 30 honoree and Plastics News Rising Star.

Sullivan Tool and Repair Inc. 370 Brook St. Elgin, Illinois 60120 John Sullivan, president Phone: 224.856.5867 | page 19 VIRTUAL SERIES PROVIDES LEADERSHIP GUIDANCE AND EXECUTIVE ACCESS TO EMERGING LEADERS

Xpress 7 Inc. specializes in prototype to medium production molds of parts that are small but not micro. Through standardization, accurate equipment and a good work environment, Xpress 7 strives to make mold building fun and stress free. Rocheleau Tool and Die 117 Industrial Rd. Fitchburg, Massachusetts 01420 Zach Rocheleau, purchasing


Phone: 978.345.1723

Rocheleau Tool and Die, a fourth-generation familyowned business, specializes in the production of extrusion blow molding machinery. Rocheleau offers complete tooling services that include custom moldmaking and manufacturing of die heads with wide-range configurations designed to fit in its blow molding machinery. The team’s experienced toolmakers create molds that meet a range of production needs, reliably and economically.


NEW MEMBERS Nicolet Plastics 16685 State Rd. 32 Mountain, Wisconsin 54149 Lisa Pichotta, director of Human Resources Phone: 715.276.4212 Email: ship smarter AMBA members save on small package, LTL, and full truckload shipments Enroll today at Please enter 7842 in the promo code field

Innovative and responsive to the changing needs of the molding industry for 40 years, OSCO is recognized worldwide for the development and engineering of accurate, durable and time-saving products. OSCO’s nozzles, valves, filters and control systems save OSCO customers downtime, waste and money.

PrymeTech is a metrology company and a loyal distributor of Zeiss Industrial Metrology and Handson Metrology, as well as, a Universal Robotics Integrator. PrymeTech is the manufacturer of PrymeFix Fixturing which provides modular and custom fixtures for CMM and Vision Systems. PrymeTech services include contract inspection, programming, reverse engineering and training.


PrymeTech 155 Prairie Lake Rd. Suite A & J East Dundee, Illinois 60118 Rich Domaleczny, president Phone: 847.558.9213 | page 17 PCS_InsertSteels_AMBA_HalfPgHoriz_081022.indd 1 8/10/22 12:09 PM NEW PARTNERS GROB Systems, Inc. 1070 Navajo Dr. Bluffton, Ohio 45817 Jamie Rivait, regional sales manager Phone: 419.358.9015 Email: GROB Systems, Inc., is a family-owned company and is known worldwide for the development and manufacturing of machines and production lines for automotive OEMs for more than 90 years. GROB has since expanded its portfolio to include universal 5-axis machining centers with a unique retractable spindle that provides unmatched access to the workpiece, and even upside-down machining, in a collision-free environment during tool change. Osco Inc. 2955 Waterview Dr. Rochester Hills, Michigan 48309 Bruce Gilgallon, sales manager Phone: 248.852.7310 Email:

by Nicole Mitchell, writer, The American Mold Builder

● How long will it last?

● What impression should new hires walk away with at the end of the first day?

In general, onboarding manufacturing workers should address demographics, build skills and introduce any new technology to the employee while improving critical thinking skills, according to BizLibrary, an online learning blog dedicated to assisting companies in employee training based in Town and Country, Missouri.2

“Having a strong onboarding process is very important for hiring,” said Musbach. “It shows potential employees that we are professional, secure and shows interest in them working for our company. It gives them also a good overview of what they will be doing in their position and a good feel for the whole shop and our process.”

“We’ve had good luck with CNC operators and toolmakers on first shift, but we are having issues with hiring CNC operators for second shift, even with the added premium,” said David Musbach, plant manager of Strohwig Industries, a moldmaking plant with 180 employees, a 210,000 sq. ft. facility and 56 horizontal and vertical CNC machines located in Richfield, Wisconsin. “It seems that most of the best second shift operators went to first shift because they knew they had the talent to do so.”

The process of recruitment and interviewing is completed, and the prospective employee officially has signed on to the company – though not easily. In recent survey data, nine-in-10 mold builders currently have open positions at their companies. Of those companies, 88% face either moderate or severe challenges in finding qualified employees to fill those positions.



● When will onboarding start?

● What kind of goals does the team want to set for its new employees?

Based on the playbook responses, AMBA concluded that there are specific procedures that many moldmaking companies include in their onboarding and training sessions for every employee. Five of the top answers included policy overview, program eligibility, team member introductions, employee handbook and on-thejob Procedurestraining.that still are completed in the industry at 63% or lower include trainings such as building set-up, safety videos/protocols, attire standards, background checks and “ one, employees have a full day of training/safety videos to watch and study,” explained Musbach. “On the second day, they spend a few hours with their direct manager for hands-on training. Then they will work for X amount of time with experienced personnel until they are prepared to work alone.”

● What role will HR play in the process? What about the direct managers? Co-workers?

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According to AMBA’s Workforce Development Playbook, 68% of respondents indicated that their companies have a formal onboarding process in place for new employees. Of those, 40% indicated that the process took less than one week with 30% reporting that it takes their companies one to three months to complete the onboarding process. No matter how long the onboarding and training process is, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Alexandria, Virginia, stated that a survey said 75% of new hires agree that training during the first week is the most’s hiring and onboarding team should ask themselves these questions before preparing the new hire, according to SHRM:

● How will HR gather feedback on the program and measure its effectiveness?1

BUT FIRST… PRE-BOARDING Haley Biggs, marketing coordinator at Ocasta, a firm that specializes in connecting employees with knowledge, training and education technology, Brighton, UK, stated, “Finding top talent for your business can be tough; and the reality is, once you’ve found that perfect hire, the challenge doesn’t suddenly end there.”

MANUFACTURING-SPECIFIC TRAINING METHODS | Michigan manufacturer of high quality abrasives for nearly 50 years. • • 231.929.2121

Employees new to the mold building industry will receive different education and onboarding vs. a seasoned professional who’s new to the company. “All employees have to go through the same amount of safety training, but they will go through a different amount of training on the floor,” Musbach said. “Experienced employees usually are trained for a few days. Someone new to the industry will most likely have a month or so of on-the-floor training.”


Pre-boarding should assist the hiring team in properly setting expectations, making connections and streamlining the process of hiring and onboarding, according to the recent playbook. Companies can do this by making “preboarding checklists”, examples of such would be letting the employee know appropriate attire, required equipment for day one, a list of necessary documents to bring on the first day and a daily checklist. The process of pre-boarding also may help new employees’ potential anxiety about the job. By providing new employees with such information before they step into the building is a big step in keeping them comfortable. Other ways of easing the new hires’ first day jitters may be by sending a company-wide email announcement welcoming them to the team, scheduling a team lunch and assigning a “teammate-to-be” mentor to help answer any of their questions.

Ninety percent of participants of the Workforce Development Playbook stated that their companies use employee-to-employee training, but that’s not the only option available. Companies should note that there can be multiple ways of training an employee. Additional education, while not always required by manufacturing companies, still can be beneficial. Other methods of training in use by US mold manufacturing companies include the use of trade schools, online resources and external trainers/facilitators.

By navigating other tools offered in the manufacturing industry, companies can create their own training manuals, which is a process that Strohwig currently utilizes.

“We took advice from OSHA and ISO for our training procedures,” Musbach said. “Then we created our own onboarding process based off of what was required.”

Companies like 180 Skills, an online skills training and certification company based in Indianapolis, Indiana, often offer training courses for manufacturers. Such courses offered include blueprint reading, welding, machining, workplace safety, lean manufacturing and more.

page 22

Online resources Online training resources have become the norm since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with many training companies, schools and educators offering online courses for training – both in the moldmaking field and out.

Other options Online training and training processes created by the company are the types that are most commonly used; however, those aren’t the only options. Sometimes using an external trainer or facilitator can help manufacturers stay on track. Trade schools also are often looked into by manufacturers. According to the playbook, 57% of respondents said that their company provided some sort of tuition reimbursement.



Not all companies offer to cross-train; however, those that do, often see benefits such as flexibility in scheduling, improvements in processes and, in general, a higher level of worker engagement, improved service and succession planning, according to REWO, a training and onboarding platform located in Seattle, Washington.3

Cross-training allows employees to further their careers while staying at the company. “We offer cross training to employees that have a drive to learn and enhance their careers,” Musbach said. “On day one, we make sure each employee is aware of our available training. All CNC operators have training courses for Powermill, set ups and safety. They also are put with an experienced employee if they show promise or drive.”

22 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022

exceptional variety

The of combination enables solutions solve all challenges in the of

There are many advantages to successfully onboarding and training each employee that joins the team. According to BizLibrary, some of the said advantages include developing the employee-organization relationship, correcting common misconceptions about manufacturing, reducing absenteeism and increasing retention, introducing organizational values, kickstarting skill development and improving workplace safety. Mold builders should be sure to pre-board to give the right impression to the new employee, as well as offer enough training once said employee is on the clock. Training programs can be through online courses, trade schools or something created by company employees. Whatever the case, the goal is to make the new employee feel welcome, comfortable and to give them the right tools they need to complete the job successfully.

page 21

Resources 1. acquisition/pages/new-employee-onboarding-guide.aspx onboarding-for-manufacturing/ 3. it-and-why-it-is-important/




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ESSENTIAL WHEN YOUR MOLD MATTERS 26 5 I ND USTRIAL DR. WAUCONDA, IL 600 84PHONE ADDRESS ALLI ANCE LA SER SAL ONLINEES.COM 847.487.1945 PRO UD PAR TN ER MEMBER We understand that timelines are unreasonable, tolerances are critical, everything is an emergency, and we know that when your job is in our facility, you would rather it be back in yours. That’s why we’ve assembled a team of hardworking, dedicated professionals to serve you in the areas that you don’t want to deal with. We offer mold finishing, laser welding, laser engraving, mold maintenance and hot runner manifold repair all under one roof. •FIBER LASER TECHNOLOGY •MADE IN AMERICA •HIGH PRECISION LASER WELDING •NO MAINTENANCE NEEDS •IN-HOUSE DEMOS AVAILABLE FULLY AUTOMATED LASER WELDING TECHNOLOGY

In 2022, mold manufacturers experienced little relief; as of August 2022, the United States faces an inflation rate of 8.5%, after surviving a spike to 9% the previous month. With this perspective, it is more imperative than ever for domestic mold manufacturers to understand how they can most efficiently compete in the marketplace. For this reason, the AMBA once again surveyed US mold builders on charge rates across over 20 moldmaking, engineering and specialty services. To provide more in-depth data, the AMBA team relied heavily on insights from mold manufacturing executives and was able to provide a deeper analysis of overhead, gross margin, mold build details and both attended and unattended rates (as Theapplicable).finalreport includes survey responses from 70 US mold manufacturers from 21 states, primarily located in the Midwest region. The industries served most frequently by this year’s respondents include the automotive, consumer products and medical/optical/dental industries.

AMBA HONES COMPETITIVE EDGE FOR US MOLD BUILDERS WITH SHOP RATE DATA by Rachael Pfenninger, director of strategic execution, AMBA

Overwhelmingly, respondents –86% – identified new mold/die builds as their primary revenue generator. To expound on revenue sources, this year’s survey also asked respondents to identify their second-largest revenue source (only identifiable if it generated 20% or more of total annual revenue over the last 12 months). Of the provided options, mold/die repairs and engineering changes were identified by 61% of respondents as the second-largest revenue source (another 13% also identified this option as their primary source of revenue).

24 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022

Of the respondents represented in this data set, only seven indicated that a single industry represented 80% or more of their total revenue; no company indicated that a single industry accounted for 100% of its total revenue (See chart 1).

Chart 1

For the first time, respondents indicated not just which markets they primarily served, but what percentage of work that industry accounted for over the last 12 months.

Respondents also were asked to provide their approximate gross

At the end of 2021, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) surveyed US mold manufacturers on compensation data across 51 unique job positions. At that time, the AMBA benchmarking team discovered that, despite experiencing the highest inflation rate since 1982 (7%), mold manufacturers were continuing to raise wages as they battled a worsening labor shortage.

On average, mold manufacturers reported a current utilization of 72%; anticipated capacity is expected to rise an average of 1% through the end of the year to 73%. Respondents also provided insight into the approximate percentage of their shop’s overhead costs compared to total annual expenses.

Of the service charge rates studied, no service had only one mode (a single rate that was cited most frequently). For this reason, notable modes – or “peaks” – were identified for every charge rate. To better illustrate this year’s data, all charts were reformatted as scatterplot graphs to better illustrate the frequency and distribution of charge rates for each service area. Additionally, respondents were able to add both attended and unattended rates for the following services: 5-axis machining, 3D printing steel core and cavities for conformal cooling, CNC milling, EDM drilling, gun drill operation, high-speed milling (30k+ RPM), sinker EDM, surface grinding and wire EDM.

The full 2022 report illustrates additional information on over 20 individual charge rates, as well as further charge rate breakdown by annual sales revenue and/or by the top three primary industries served.

To protect the interests of its members and the competitive advantage of the US mold manufacturing industry, the final report is available at no cost only to AMBA members who participated in this survey process. AMBA members who did not participate are able to purchase the report for $349. This report will be unavailable to any non-member (regardless of participation). Eligible parties interested in purchasing the report can visit the AMBA publications page at Chart 2 | Lapping • Textured Surface Prep • Benching • Quoting from Drawings, Prints, Pictures and Parts • On-Site Support Capabilities • 50+ Polishers • 40 ton Capacity • 24 hours 7 days • Pick-up and Delivery • 3-D CAD File Capabilities Partnerships • Welding • Plating • Texturing Ph: 847-352-5249 Fx: 847-352-4052 1320 Holmes Rd., Elgin, Illinois Getswww.ultrapolishing.comyoutomarketfaster margin percentage, calculated as ((Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold) / Revenue) * 100. Nearly one-third of respondents indicated that their average gross margin was relatively thin (under 15%) while another 27% of respondents identified their approximate gross margin percentage as regularly between 15-24% (See chart 2).

HEIDENHAIN, Schaumburg, Illinois, presents the new Bluetooth droPWR by ACU-RITE. The droPWR is a firstof-its-kind system to enable an iPad® tablet to become a digital readout (DRO), doing everything an ACU-RITE DRO can except without cables between the tablet and machine tool. Bluetooth technology along with an IBT interface box in the droPWR system allows connection to multiple machine configurations in one tablet including for milling, turning and grinding machines with up to six axes. Designed to be simple and functional, this tablet DRO can be moved and used with various machines. For more information, visit

1 32 4 5 6 7

[1] BORIDE INTRODUCES WORK FINISHER TOOL BORIDE Engineered Abrasives, Traverse City, Michigan, has introduced a new series of safe and easy-to-use ceramic deburring and deflashing tools. The Work Finisher Tool is ideal for deburring and chamfering non-ferrous metals such as copper, aluminum and brass products and excels on ultra-hard resins like glass-fiber, carbon-fiber and talc-filled plastics, while eliminating the fear of cutting hands, fingers or damaging the molded part in the process. The product is available in three sizes: large, small and micro. For more information, visit

[2] CORETECH RELEASES MOLDEX3D CoreTech System Co., Ltd. (Moldex3D), Farmington Hills, Michigan, announced the release of Moldex3D – the latest version of its molding analysis software series. Moldex3D reinforces the system constructure and improves analysis performance, aiming to deliver more accurate molding results for users. For more information, visit

Oerlikon HRSflow, San Polo di Piave, Italy, has thoroughly revised the software for the control unit of its FLEXflow hot runner systems. The updated Human Machine Interface (HMI) 4.0 now makes operation even more intuitive and convenient. Systems with different nozzle


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[3] HEIDENHAIN DEBUTS ACU-RITE’S BLUETOOTH DROPWR | MACHININGUNIVERSAL5-AXIS CENTERS For the highest accuracy, dynamics & process reliability! WANT TO KNOW MORE? CONTACT US AND VISIT OUR WEBSITE! GROB_Anzeige_2022_05_3,75x4,875inch.indd 1 13.05.2022 08:53:06 types can be integrated and several parameter sets can be saved per mold. Extended possibilities have been added to individually control each servo motor for nozzle needle positioning and to monitor process stability. HMI 4.0 now offers the possibility to control multiple servo motors individually and with specific data. This also enables the handling of systems with mixed nozzle dimensions. For this purpose, the system uses specific mold cards for each tool equipped with the FLEXflow hot runner technology. For more information, visit

[7] STRAUSAK INTRODUCES 5-AXIS MACHINE MODEL ONE Strausak, Mundelein, Illinois, extends its global position in the field of multi‐axis CNC grinding by spotlighting the new model ONE 5‐axis flexible tool and cutter grinding machine. The machine houses the Numroto software platform offering the user high-performance tool design and intuitive programming for an unlimited range of applications, both for production, custom tooling and resharpening. A 4‐station wheel changer is integrated into the machine and can be upgraded to an 8‐position or 12‐position system. The Staubli Robot can be pre‐installed or retrofitted to the machine for parts handling. As a cost‐conscious solution, this machine can be equipped with a pick‐and‐place loader that accepts the same cassettes as the range of Rollomatic machines. This machine presents a small footprint with a 32 mm (1 1/4") capacity. For more information, visit


HASCO, Fletcher, North Carolina, introduced newly designed support pillars Z571/…., with clearance hole and thread, give designers maximum freedom in mold design when high injection molding pressures have to be absorbed. The pillars are available direct ex works in the steel quality, 1.1730 in diameters ranging from 25 to100 mm and lengths ranging from 36 to 196 mm. For more information, visit

[6] ROLLOMATIC LAUNCHES GRINDSMART® 660XW Rollomatic, Mundelein, Illinois, maintains its global leadership position in the field of multi‐axis CNC grinding by spotlighting the new hybrid model GrindSmart® 660XW for combination grinding of tool geometries as well as peel grinding for neck, plunge grinding or other pre‐fluting or post‐fluting operations. The GrindSmart 660XW is a 6‐axis tool and peel grinding machine. It allows the user to utilize cost‐effective and advanced lean manufacturing principles; termed as “Ultra‐Lean Grinding Process.” For more information, visit

[5] PCS COMPANY EXPANDS CONFORMAL COOLED SPRUE BUSHINGS LINE PCS Company, Fraser, Michigan, has expanded its Conformal Cooled Sprue Bushings product line by adding a 3/4" radius for its U and B Series bushings. These products are designed to reduce cycle times for injection molders by creating faster cooling of plastic sprues. Provided as direct retrofits to the common U (3/4" diameter) and B (1" diameter) series sprue bushings, they are available in 8 (Model U) and 12 (Model B) standard sizes. PCS also provides custom-sized bushings for specific applications. These bushings are constructed of stainless steel for corrosion resistance and longevity. Conformal cooled bushings use curved channels to improve cooling of the sprue, which reduces cycle times, increases efficiency and provides better process control. For more information, visit

28 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022


by Will Hinshaw, partner/founder, Captive Solutions & Options

Whether it’s a group as small as three or as large as three thousand, the very purpose of insurance, a mechanism to protect against unforeseen costs, is needed to protect the human capital asset – employees and dependents – from the risk associated with medical conditions. To create a large enough financial reserve to protect against the $1 million pre-mature birth, the $25,000 a month prescription or the $500,000 cancer diagnosis, most companies pool the risk through a fully insured health plan. While this method protects against loss by capping the company’s overall financial liability, it limits data transparency and the ability to pinpoint costs and develop courses of action to remedy Additionally,them.the fully insured model prepays for bills that might occur, not what actually has occurred. For this reason, the fully insured methodology can accurately be categorized as risk avoidance, not risk management.

To actively engage in managing risk and receive reimbursement, an employer must participate in what is commonly referred to as a partially self-funded program. In this model, the employer covers the costs of medical procedures up to a specific financial limit for each individual while also limiting financial liability for the sum of all medical expenditures via third-party insurance. The

The answer is risk. Risk management is the identification, evaluation and prioritization of threats to an organization. With health insurance costs, managing risk and the potential exposure to a company often is achieved by being a part of a large [risk] pool with little control or transparency or through a stand-alone program that offers greater control and transparency, along with an increased level of risk. There is a strategy (see sidebar) that offers the best of both worlds – the strength of aggregation with the control and transparency of individual plans – where the approach is to provide accessible coverage for when things go bad.

What if submitting a receipt for an oil change to the car insurance company for reimbursement was possible? Unfortunately, it is not allowed because routine maintenance is not covered under a car insurance policy. Insurance, by definition, is a contract represented by a policy in which an individual or an entity receives financial protection and/or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. It intends to limit the liability of the policyholder in the worst-case scenarios. Why then does the US healthcare system operate differently – where routine medical maintenance procedures (well care, such as immunizations, mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) are covered or reimbursed by the health insurance company? | insurance entity provides reimbursement to the employer for medical claims that exceed either the individual specific limit or the overall company expenditure value. Under this platform, employers are provided clear data about their medical claims and are given greater choice in determining the service providers and structure of their health benefits plan. These choices are predicated on the overarching goals and objectives of the employer’s own risk management strategy.


The paradigm is shifting as CAPTIV8 is changing the way insurance premium dollars can better serve its members by leveraging the fully insured methodology of pooling with the control and transparency of a self-insured model. This program utilizes a unique contracting approach by putting employer premiums to work for its members, specifically during bad times. The CAPTIV8 program facilitates multiple partially self-funded employers aggregating a majority of the premium for one sole purpose – to be utilized by its members. In the event it is utilized for claims, because it is member premium supporting other members’ needs, the insurance entity (the captive) does not need to recoup the premium as aggressively at renewal. In fact, given the captive premium is going to be returned to the members through either expense reimbursements or profit distributions, there is no need to charge for its use. Instead, the increase associated with the utilization of these premium dollars is directly linked to the forwardlooking projection of risk for the individual or group of individuals who generated the claims –not a penalty for using the premium. By sharing the premium, members are insulated from market factors and the pricing of commercial insurance. Recently, a CAPTIV8 member was the direct beneficiary of this shared premium model which sustains the captive members and not the insurance companies. After a particularly bad claims year, where reimbursements exceeded premium deposits by more than 300%, the member’s renewal was 15% below the market. The benefit of aggregated premium contributions, in combination with the fact that other member withdrawals did not exceed contributions, allowed this member to renew at a lower cost. While the member’s premium alone was not enough, in a model that encourages the spending of the member premium, it was more than Moreenough.information:

While the partially self-funded plan is better, its policy –just like the fully insured offering – is based on a premium that is collected by a third-party insurance entity. The premiums are repurposed by the insurance company to cover the reimbursements or expenses incurred through submitted claims. Should the funds associated with the premiums need to be utilized, insurance companies will charge for spending the money received as premiums. Therefore, it is best to avoid this whenever possible. With car insurance, this easily is achieved. The balance between the affordability for a repair – the deductible – is balanced with the costs associated with certain repairs. The estimate or quote to repair the damaged bumper may exceed the deductible. However, the difference in cost over the deductible might still be more cost-efficient than the long-term impact of higher premium rates from filing the claim to have the repair covered via insurance. In this situation, the availability of the cost data makes this decision much Unfortunately,easier. with healthcare, the costs of medical services and prescription drugs (and/or the lack of transparency for the associated costs) are not as apparent. Only in the US healthcare delivery system do we blend the elements of insurance and service payment. Appropriately, this was done to address the opaque nature of the service fees and possibly the high-cost health care services associated with individual plan member risk. Will Hinshaw has dedicated over 25 years to leading organizations in numerous industries, including CAPTIV8, AMBA’s new funding strategy for members. For more information on pharmaceutical cost-containment strategies, or to learn more about CAPTIV8, contact Susan Denzio at


As next level in CNC control, TNC7 offers profes sional machinists completely new possibilities at every stage, from initial design to the finished workpiece. programming developed from scratch, individ customization of the user interface, perfect visual ization of machined parts and the work envelope, and numerous smart functions all make workday im mensely easier.

The new TNC7 control Intuitive Task-focused Customizable HEIDENHAINwww.heidenhain.usCORPORATIONExplore the TNC7 at IMTS, September 12-17, Booth #339449




The TNC7 assists you throughout the entire production process. It will advance operations and add reliabili ty to processes. So take manufacturing to a new level. It’s the future of machining.





by Omar S. Nashashibi, co-founder, The Franklin Partnership, LLC In addition to a global heat wave that did not spare the US, Russia and China continued to dominate the headlines here in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2022. Some supply chain and energy disruptions began to ease, but tensions with China increased, culminating with an announced visit by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. | page 32

In a separate review of the Section 301 tariff action, the US International Trade Commission held a three-day hearing in late July to review the impact of the China tariffs on US industry. Congress in March 2022, passed a law requiring the ITC to conduct the investigation and issue a report by March 2023. The ITC heard from roughly eighty witnesses, many in favor of lifting the Section 301 tariffs on China, with AMBA being one of the few groups testifying in support of domestic industry in favor of the AMBAtariffs.managing

The White House and federal agencies are not alone in their focus on China this summer. In a rare bipartisan vote,

director Kym Conis testified that in a recent survey, 70% of mold builders reported that suspending the 25% tariffs on Chinese molds and dies would have a negative impact on their business, with 44% reporting an immediate negative impact. The ITC Commissioners asked questions of the witnesses as they sought more information on how the tariffs have directly supported American manufacturers.

On the trade front, the American Mold Builders Association used its summer to press the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to keep the 25% tariffs on Chinese molds, dies and tooling and to testify before the US International Trade Commission (ITC) on how the tariffs on China continue to help the industry.

The ITC will not issue recommendations or make a decision to lift the tariffs; however, its economic study will contribute to the decision-making process and add to the ongoing debate over the effectiveness of the tariffs.

Few believe the Section 301 trade action has led China to change its predatory behavior towards the American industry, but AMBA continues to argue that targeted tariffs have supported the industry. However, as AMBA testified, the 25% tariff on Chinese molds still does not fully counter the “China price”, which member companies report is up to 70% below quotes for US molds.


The Biden administration is internally deliberating in a very public way whether to keep the 25% and 7.5% tariffs on over 10,000 imports from China. Federal law requires the government to review the Section 301 tariffs after four years – that date falling on July 6, 2022. USTR announced it would continue the tariffs while it conducts the formal review; however, AMBA did not waste time.

The association activated its membership, who were among the 327 stakeholders filing comments with the USTR in support of continuing some or all tariffs on Chinese imports. In its filing supporting the 25% tariffs on molds and dies, AMBA stated that over half of its members took on new business from China after a customer wanted the product manufactured in the US due to the tariffs on imports.

Sources in Washington indicate that the Biden administration deliberations over how to handle the Trump-imposed tariffs involved whether to keep some, all, or none of the tariffs. Another option also surfaced in September 2021 with increasing support – initiating a new Section 301 tariff action on China, this one focused on State-Owned Enterprises and government subsidies.

AMBA believes amble capacity exists, as according to the US Census, the federal government identified 1,381 industrial mold building establishments as of 2020, over 200 of which are members of the association. Importers continue to claim supply shortages in their ongoing efforts to lift the tariffs.

While the USTR reviews the comments received in support of the tariffs and considers next steps, importers are anxiously awaiting word on not only the fate of the tariffs but also the restarting of an exclusion process. Previously, companies could petition USTR for a temporary suspension of tariffs on a specific product. With the exclusion portal closed through the summer, pressure continues to build on USTR to restart the process and allow more imports to enter without tariffs.

32 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 page 31

Introducing CAPTIV8, health strategiesinsurancecreated for mold manufacturers.

The attention from Washington on China has not gone without notice in Beijing. Security and economic tensions continue to heat up with at one point this summer, rumors of Chinese military mobilization in response to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Tensions are unlikely to lessen anytime soon with the US election only months away and many politicians citing the Chinese Communist Party in their campaign ads.

AMBA is combatting members’ rising insurance costs with tailored strategies that positively impact both your employees and your company.

Visit to learn more.

the US Congress passed into law legislation to counter China’s technological rise and invest in US advanced manufacturing and the semiconductor industry. After months of tense negotiations, lawmakers sent President Biden the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which invests billions of dollars in US manufacturing, including $52 billion over five years to incentivize and support the manufacture of semiconductors in the US.

Sources indicate that Beijing spends roughly $150 billion annually on semiconductors and R&D, but the action by Congress this summer will inject some important government support for the American industry. The new law creates a 25% advanced manufacturing investment credit for investment in semiconductor manufacturing and semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The legislation also provides over $5 billion for workforce training and development, along with other provisions focused on workforce and education.

Are you ready to of one of your company’s TAKE CONTROL largest expenses?

The AMBA is using the attention on China to direct policymakers’ attention towards the Chinese molds, dies and other tooling that undercuts the American industry. The summer has brought opportunity to have all policymaking branches of the federal government focus their attention on China. AMBA’s comments to USTR in June, followed by testimony to the ITC in July, helped reinforce the message that Washington should not let up on China and must keep the 25% tariffs on the products members manufacture in the US.

It is important that the attention on China’s trade policies not end with the summer or with the coming November election. For now, it appears the red hot focus on Beijing only will increase as the Biden administration nears a decision on the 25% tariffs. Stay tuned.

Omar Nashashibi is a founding partner at The Franklin Partnership, LLC, a bipartisan government relations and lobbying firm retained by the American Mold Builders Association in Washington, D.C.


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GRAHAM ENGINEERING ACQUIRES KENNEDY TOOL & DIE Graham Engineering Company, LLC (GEC), York, Pennsylvania, and Kennedy Tool & Die, Inc., Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, announce that GEC has acquired Kennedy, a leading precision manufacturer of molds and tooling used in blow molding, reactioninjection molding, thermoforming and structural-foam molding. The acquisition of Kennedy’s engineers, tool makers and machinists will accelerate GEC’s ability to support customers throughout the life of their extrusion equipment. Kennedy’s operation will remain in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, providing essential contributions to GEC’s aftermarket business. For more information, visit

34 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022

[2] REGISTRATION OPEN FOR ANNUAL ALLIANCE CHARITY GOLF OUTING Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales once again will partner with the iWarriors organization during its annual golf outing in Mundelein, Illinois, at Countryside Golf Club, on September 23, 2022. The annual event supports the iWarriors mission, which is to assist severely injured members of all branches of the Armed Forces by providing them with personalized tablets to aid in their return, recovery and reintegration. The golf outing will kick off with an open house at the Alliance facility, followed by registration, lunch and a shotgun start at noon CST. Event information, including sponsorships, registration and more are available at

Pyramid Molding Group (PMG), Rockford, Illinois, is the parent company of Industrial Molds and Pyramid Plastics. Industrial Molds has purchased three new automated machines to increase overall efficiency and performance. The first new machine of 2022 for the company is the HAAS VF-2 vertical machining center, featuring 40 tapers, 3-axis machining with a high-power, direct-drive spindle at up to 8,100 rpm max speed, and a 20-pocket carousel tool changer. For more information, visit 2 3


HASCO AWARDED BEST PLACES TO WORK HASCO America Inc., Fletcher, North Carolina, was recently presented with a special award. “Best Places to Work 2022.” As a leading manufacturer of high-quality modular, standardized components and individually planned hot runner systems, HASCO offers designers, moldmakers and injection molders innovative and costefficient solutions. In the Plastics News competition, 22 companies participated, and the 18-strong US team was able to convince the judges about their good working climate and team spirit. For more information, visit



INTEGRITY RECOGNIZES DMS WITH STRATEGIC SUPPLIER AWARD Die Mold Services (DMS), Oldcastle, Ontario, was awarded Integrity’s Strategic Supplier Award. This award is given to an elite group of suppliers whose performance consistently has exceeded requirements, including meeting customers’ delivery, pricing, customer service, quality and technology requirements, as well as conducting outstanding performance regionally and globally. For more information, visit

GROB Systems, Inc., Bluffton, Ohio, is a global leader in the development of manufacturing systems and machine tools. GROB Systems hosted a 2022 Apprenticeship Class orientation and signing day on June 4, 2022. New apprentices and their families learned about what to expect from the GROB Apprenticeship Program and celebrated with a signing day. The 2022 apprenticeship class is made up of 41 individuals from 25 area high schools and six area career centers. For more information, visit

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“Ghosting” is the term – first used in dating situations – for when one person in a relationship ends all communication Photos courtesy of PolyFlex Products, Inc.

“We write ads and we get creative in what we’re putting in those ads,” Kimbel explained. “We’ll get anywhere from zero to 100 people applying, and then we’ll read through the applications and send them off to the hiring manager in the department where their skills might fit. Then we go through the process of setting up an interview, calling, texting and emailing to confirm that they’re coming… and then we wait… and they don’t come.”

by Nicole Mitchell, editor, The American Mold Builder From topics such as bilingual training systems to what to do when an applicant ghosts, these are five of the common human resources challenges that companies face in the plastics industry.

36 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022

The Great Resignation begin in 2021, with record numbers of people leaving their jobs when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. What began as mass retirement shifted as workers evaluated work/life balance, commutes, job satisfaction, career paths and more. The trend continues, according to the US Department of Labor, which reported that 4.5 million people quit their jobs in March of 2022. In fact, almost half of employees are looking for a new job or plan to soon, according to a survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson, insurance brokerage and advisory company located in London, UK. Complicating the employment situation is the fact that US unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in April, with the number of people collecting ongoing unemployment benefits at its lowest since 1970. And, with durable goods orders still on the rise, manufacturers are struggling to find these seemingly nonexistent employee prospects.

Audra Kimbel is the human resource manager for PolyFlex Products, Inc., a manufacturer of material handling packaging solutions headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with additional locations in Michigan, Tennessee and Mexico. The PolyFlex website provides detailed information about job openings, pay rates and company benefits. In addition, the human resources team posts ads in a variety of locations to fill permanent employment openings while also working with temporary staffing agencies. Still, the company struggle to fill open positions, and “ghosting” takes an exhausting toll.

The repercussions of this constantly evolving temporary workforce are felt throughout the facility. “The struggle for our employees working through these situations,” said Kimbel, “is that they’re training people – taking time and showing them how to work within the company – and then these people don’t return. Then our employees feel defeated, and we have to reassure them that it isn’t them. They did nothing to cause this behavior.”

In addition to getting creative when writing job advertisements, expanding permanent employee benefits and working through a variety of staffing agencies, Kimbel also did a test case sample in 2021. “We increased the rate for temporaries from $15 an hour to $16.50 to see if we could get people in the door,” she said. “It was slow at first, but we started getting people in who not only stayed, but also referred others to us. We finally were able to stabilize our shifts.”

can continue when using temporary staffing agencies. PolyFlex relies on five different staffing agencies in Michigan to fill its open positions. “From one agency, we’ll have eight temps who are assigned to us, but only two show up,” said Kimbel. “From another agency, four are assigned and all four come in – but two go to break and don’t come back. Then we find that these same people are being terminated from one agency because of their behavior, jumping to another agency and starting the process all over again.”

Other strategies shared by plastics industry companies include a return to the “old school” ways of hiring –meaning, walk-in applications and immediate interviews are the only options for those interested in joining a company. Similarly, there are companies that offer interviews on certain days only, cutting down on the time that is wasted if applicants were to ghost.

Overall, creating a workforce that is engaged means creating an empowered work environment. Focusing on operational excellence, talent development, succession planning, relationship building and recruiting is an important way of doing so. “We’re able to ensure that our organization is fully staffed at all times for our high turnover roles and that our HR Team is a trusted go-to resource for our team members,” Stuetzer said.

Good attendance matters, but in a low-unemployment market and with many employees dealing with challenging personal life situations, flexibility can be key for employee OMGretention.Tooling Inc., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, noted that the company stays away from a typical attendance point system. A point system is a way of disciplining employees after a certain number of points have been accumulated for late arrivals or absences. Too many points acquired by one employee can end in termination.

Kristi Stuetzer, vice president of human resources at Revere, recommends that human resources departments automate the transactional functions of the job – such as employee updating, reviewing and processing paperwork; creating, maintaining, processing, referencing and storing forms and files and screening applicants for hire – and invest more time in activities as a business partner and building relationships with the entire workforce. By switching to an automated system for transactional tasks, Revere was able to spend more time sharing knowledge across teams, coordinating team building events, conducting surveys, deploying a meaningful onboarding program and more. | without explanation. Unfortunately, ghosting has become common in employment scenarios far beyond not showing for scheduled interviews. “We have people who come in, go through the interviewing and onboarding process, accept an offer that we have made, agree to a start date and then don’t show up for their first day,” said Kimbel. “We end up having to report that to the unemployment Thecommission.”frustrations



As many human resources employees know, it is common for employees to seem disengaged in the work that they create. In fact, 53% of employees don’t feel attached to their company’s vision or goals, according to Revere Plastics

Systems, LLC, Novi, Michigan. More importantly, 13% of employees are actively disengaged. This means that they can be hostile toward other employees and voice their dislike about working there – overall bringing workplace morale to a low. So, how do companies dealing with a high disengagement rate improve that?

“Our attendance and work schedule approach are focused on flexibility, keeping in mind of family’s dynamics and challenges,” Kris Ryan, owner and CFO, said. “OMG implemented a four-day work week (Monday through Thursday), allowing for three-day weekends. Both vacation and sick pay can be used for absences. Employees also have up to an additional 104 hours of missed time during their anniversary period.” This approach allows employees the flexibility to manage their time as needed without the worry of repercussion or termination. When a paid holiday falls on Friday through Sunday, OMG observes the holiday either Thursday or

page 39

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Kimbel also said the company has relaxed its policies on verbal warnings. “We are making sure we are indicating notes on timecards if someone is late without calling or if they are habitually late,” she said. “We have it documented so they’re aware and we’re aware, but we’re not moving forward with disciplinary actions at this time. We’re understanding what they’re going through in their home life. They’re important to us.”

4. PERFORMANCE REVIEWS Performance reviews help hold employees accountable for the work that does (or does not) get done. They also provide valuable feedback, for both the employee and the company, that can improve workplace culture and set both parties up for future success.

page 40

“We started working on a new performance review process in 2020,” said Kimbel. “We had some people with the ability to work from home and others, like those on our manufacturing floors, who cannot. That made it difficult when the old review process relied on paper forms that people sat down and filled out by hand.” Kimbel and her team reviewed documentation from industry surveys and best practices from books to put together a new set of review questions, taking into consideration that the review was evaluating an individual, rather than a position. Then, the form was created electronically, with formulas

Monday. “With our three-day weekends and holiday benefits, employees can enjoy 10 days off only utilizing two days of vacation,” said Ryan. At PolyFlex, the company has been observing flexibility with its attendance policy. In the office areas (engineering, customer service, accounting, etc), the company offers flexible hours and some work-from-home availability, depending on the needs of that area. “In the plant, it’s more difficult when you’re working with different shifts,” Kimbel explained, “because of our high press demand, it requires specific manning to maintain certain cycle times that need to be achieved in order to maximize run time. But we also have employees who have been working through struggles with school schedules, so we’ve adjusted the start times for our afternoon shifts for some employees. We have some employees stay longer to cover the presses for the people who are coming in for an adjusted shift. It does get a little crazy.” | page 37 JOIN INDUSTRY FRIENDS RAISING FUNDS FOR OUR VETS: WWW.iWARRIORS.ORG/GOLF THEY GAVE THEIR ALL. LET’S GIVE SOME BACK. SAVE THE DATE! SAVE THE DATE! 2022 GOLF OUTING FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 2022 GOLF OUTING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21

Creating a workforce that is engaged means creating an empowered work environment.

“We have employees who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Indian – several employees in the office and on the plant floors who are bilingual,” said Kimbel. “We have an afternoon shift staffed mostly with people who do not speak English. They have a phone they can speak into that translates into English, and there is one person on that shift who translates for the rest of the team.”

The new process also evaluated employees who had potential to grow into a lead or supervisor role by adding sections that could grade an employee with both an employee review score and a supervisor score. PolyFlex keeps the last score from each employee review on file so it can be reviewed and utilized in setting new goals. Then, the company took another step.

Many manufacturing companies are employing an increasingly diverse workforce. Communication about company policies, safety and job training can be difficult when English is not the primary language for a portion of the workforce.

PolyFlex also has a facility in Mexico, and an employee there has translated documents for the company. “A supervisor on day shift suggested translating brochures on our safety orientation, sexual harassment and workplace violence policies into Spanish,” Kimbel said, “so we have those available.” The company created brochures in both English and Spanish that talk about the company and its employment benefits. These are given to temporary employees to encourage a shift to permanent employment.


Paulson Training Programs, Inc., Chester, Connecticut, also has recognized the challenges in training employees who speak English as a second language. It recently released a Spanish version of its online SkillBuilder program, an injection molding machine simulation learning tool. Paulson’s online lab lessons simulate an in-person molding environment, giving users the ability to practice injection molding concepts in a worry-free environment while increasing molding knowledge.

In addition to company documents and training programs, some benefit providers are expanding their offerings to include other communication options. “One of our benefit programs is through HoneyBee Financial Benefits,” Kimbel said, “and the financial coaches available through that service have a variety of languages they speak – so even our benefit providers are seeing the need for these “We’rethings.” trying to do everything we can,” Kimbel added. “We want people to like where they work, what they do and the people they work with, so we’re doing everything we can to make that happen.”

On January 1 of this year, Kimbel added yet another layer of data collection to help her team understand what PolyFlex employees were feeling. “In the employee input form, we have sections where they can circle A – agree, N – neutral or D – disagree for a list of questions,” she said. “We started to track the neutral and disagree answers, creating a rolling set of data that showed employee feelings. We rolled it out to the management team in March, and it was received very well. It’s great data!” The next step is for Kimbel to put the data in graph form so the management team can understand where they need to focus and then see how the data is affected as new processes are rolled out.

40 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 page 39 established so the reviewer could place an “x” in a box and the form automatically would total the score for an employee’s performance.

Focusing on operational excellence, talent development, succession planning, relationship building and recruiting is an important way of doing so.”

When employees are moved into a new position (for instance, from a floor role into a supervisory position) or when new employees are hired, the employee input form is given to them prior to their 90-day review. “When they sit down with their supervisor, then it opens their conversation up to one-on-one communication so the supervisor has better insight into what the employee is feeling,” she said. These 90-day reviews have been beneficial to the company. PolyFlex now is considering the elimination of its traditional annual review process to implement reviews in shorter increments – say 90 days.

“We decided to do an employee input form,” Kimbel explained. “We want to know what the employees have to say. Are they happy in their positions? Do they have the tools and equipment they need to perform their jobs? Do they feel safe in their environment? Do they feel our leaders represent our organization and follow our values?”

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42 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 22 SEPTEMBER 2022 SALES process forum 26 AUGUST report published: 2022 shop rate report SCHAUMBURG, IL *AMBA Emerging Leaders events 30 AUGUST WEBINAR: SUCCESSION PLANNING VIRTUAL CAPACITY TOOL roundtable discussions sales process forum leadership retreatHealth insurance C-Suite Dialogue shop rate survey GRANTS AND GOVERNMENTINDUSTRYRESOURCESPARTNERSHIPS EVENTS CALENDAR Through the pool of knowledge within the AMBA community, industry execu�ves access dozens of resources - like AMBA's new Open Capacity Tool - that help them address challenges and share business opportuni�es. Personal Connections lead to profitable businesses Get the competitive advantage for your company. AMBA.ORG | INFO@AMBA.ORG | 317.436.3102 Quarterly UPDATE3RD QUARTER 2022 Business opportuni�es are wai�ng. 25 AUGUST session 2: "PERSPECTIIVES FROM THE TOP" leadership series* VIRTUAL 10 NOVEMBER PLANt TOUR WORKSHOP: IMFLUX, INC. 14 OCTOBER SURVEY LAUNCH: 2022 WAGE AND SALARY SURVEY HAMILTON, OH 31 AUGUST Roundtable discussion: ops and facility management VIRTUAL

by Lindsey Munson, editor, The American Mold Builder 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ….and we have lift off! The American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) is excited to announce the launch of the AMBA Work Capacity Tool – an innovative resource now available to help mold manufacturers share and fill capacity when needed.


CONVERSATION TO CONCEPT One year ago at the AMBA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a group of AMBA members started a conversation on a common struggle faced in their companies – the need for a means to even out the ebbs and tides in their operations, and according to AMBA President Don Dumoulin of Precise Tooling Solutions, Columbus, Indiana, that is how the capacity tool concept was conceived.

“If we could develop a tool where individual shops could share needs or wants of machining, polishing and EDM – all of the things it takes to make a tool in today’s environment – then we could level out the capacity for all of our shops,” Dumoulin recounted.


To learn about the new members-only AMBA Work Capacity Tool or to learn more about the AMBA network, becoming a member and gaining access to this new resource, visit

Tom Barr, TK Mold & Engineering, Inc., Romeo, Michigan, commented with excitement, “Currently we have a small group of mold shops that we can pick up the phone and ask what their capacity is. The Capacity Tool will open us up to the ‘best of the best’ in our industry!”

Designed specifically for AMBA member shops, this online, members-only tool allows a mold builder to locate open capacity in over-capacity situations and conversely, fill open capacity when work is needed, thereby helping to fuel sustainability and growth.

The newly designed, user-friendly AMBA Work Capacity Tool allows mold manufacturers to log in open capacity over a 90-day period in over 50 areas of operation, including special machines and additional services. Members are encouraged to update capacity every 30 days, with automatic reminders sent to help keep the information current. From 3-, 4- and 5-axis milling (including the ability to select size ranges) to EDM, polishing, design and more, a simple click of the button connects members with shops that meet their needs, with direct links to email for quick communication and rapid results.

“The new Capacity Tool now enables members to share work, resources and even personnel more easily and with greater resolve.”

The AMBA team has worked diligently over the past year to bring this new resource to its members and has created a ‘how-to’ tutorial located at work-capacity-tool/ for ease of implementation. “Sharing best practices, benchmarking operations and discussing challenges have long-been the hallmarks of the AMBA network,” stated Kym Conis, AMBA managing director.


“Our ability to quickly find open capacity we need help with will be a valuable resource to help provide more continuity during busy stretches. Conversely, if we have the open capacity to fill, being able to advertise that inside of a trusted network is equally valuable to our business,” said Tyler VanRee, Legacy Precision Molds, Inc., Grandville, Michigan, Shops searching for open capacity simply hit the “Search Work Capacity” button on the AMBA homepage, log in and search by date(s), areas of operation, location and/or multiple states. The search engine instantly pulls up the matching results, including company address, capabilities and contact information (through a linked email) for immediate access.

Lastly, Dumoulin added, “The best part of this is that it is our industry helping our members. It’s the best way to make our industry strong in the face of global competition.”


by Rachael Pfenninger, director of strategic execution, American Mold Builders Association | O

Moving forward, the series will continue once per month (with the exception of November) and will represent industry executives and leaders from a variety of manufacturers in mold building, plastics processing and rubber products manufacturing.


evaluation of what processes were broken at the company and why. To address these issues, Walters didn’t jump in with authority and solutions; rather, she went directly to the source, worked alongside employees, teams, departments and other managers, and slowly implemented a continuous improvement culture.

As Walters outlined in her presentation, leadership is rarely a straightforward path, and it frequently comes with unexpected opportunities, pitfalls and crises – of both the home and work variety. For this reason, “leadership” tends to be a tough subject to teach, and its lessons are often more valuable when paired with instances of success, failure and lessons learned.

Walters, who had been invited to talk family, leadership and the balancing act that comes with managing both, represents the series well. As CEO at Onex, a 100% employee-owned company that designs and services industrial furnaces across the US, Walters was able to share the unique circumstances that led to her leadership path, as well as illustrate the many successes and pitfalls she experienced along the way.


While both leadership and company success wasn’t instant for Walters, today, the transformation is clear. Not only did the company embody its message of employee empowerment by transitioning from a family-owned company to one that is 100% employee-owned, but the company’s homepage reflects more about its core values and mission – “To Make Things Better” – than it does about its services and role in manufacturing.

n July 28, 2022, Ashleigh Walters, CEO at Onex, Inc., joined over 40 young professionals and emerging leaders on camera to kick off the AMBA’s newest virtual series for its Emerging Leaders Network, “Perspectives from the Top.” This five-part series, offered to AMBA’s Emerging Leaders, as well as young professionals from the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors (MAPP) and the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM), was designed to provide access to a series of industry executives and the intimate details of their journeys.


What is exciting about the virtual series is that, while some of Walters’ leadership lessons are certainly shared by others, other presenters have completely different messages to impart. In the series’ second session on August 25, Dan Clark and Kyle Lane, Wise Plastics, will present an interactive experience through a demonstration of the RACI Model, which represents the roles that individual members of a team must share – i.e., who is responsible, who is accountable, who needs to be consulted and who needs to be informed. This perspective of leadership is less about the invitation of input from leader to employee; instead, more about the shared roles of members in a team, the varied instances where roles shift based on what a project requires and how leaders are occasionally needed to see a project differently – and play a different role – in order to produce success for the entire team.

A major lesson of leadership shared by Walters was not the celebration of instant success, but rather the patient

To learn more about the next session of this virtual series and for registration details, visit

In Walters’ case, she “fell” into leadership through her husband’s family’s company and quickly learned that there was a dire need for a transformative culture and a shift of focus within the organization – but she didn’t find her path forward through technical knowledge or an overbearing sense of leadership. Rather, she turned to the core values that fuel some of the most successful companies, including embracing a humble attitude, cultivating creativity, seeking inspiration, listening to other perspectives and putting in the work.

46 the american MOLD BUILDER | Issue 3 2022 Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales 23 AMBA 42 BORIDE Engineered Abrasives 21 CAM - TOOL 10 CAPTIV8 32 Crystallume, a Division of RobbJack Corporation .................. .............................................................. 15 DME ......................................................................................... Back Cover Dynamic Surface Technologies ............................................... ........................................ Inside Back Cover Federated Insurance ................................................................. .................................................. 38 Grainger ................................................................................... ................................................................... 41 GROB Systems 27 HASCO America, Inc 22 Heidenhain 30 INCOE Corporation 7 iWarriors 39 Kruse Training 3 Moldmaking Technology 44 Partnership 18 PCS Company 19 Plastic Engineering & Technical Services, Inc. ....................... ....................................................................... 11 Progressive Components .......................................................... .......................................Inside Front Cover Regal Components ................................................................... www. ............................................................. 33 R.E.R. Software. ...................................................................... .............................................................. 13 Ultra Polishing, Inc. ................................................................. .......................................................... 25 UNISIG 35 Vincent Tool 14 Wisconsin Engraving Co. Inc./Unitex 13 AUGUST Webinar: Succession Planning Virtual, August 30, Roundtable: OPS and Facility Management Virtual, August 31, SEPTEMBER IMTS Trade Show 2022, September 12-17, Chicago, Illinois, 2022 Sales Process Forum, September 22, Schaumburg, Illinois, OCTOBER Roundtable: Sales and Marketing Strategies, Virtual, October 18, NOVEMBER Plant Tour Workshop: iMFLUX, Inc., November 10, Hamilton, Ohio, MoldMaking Conference 2022 (See ad on page 44), November 8-9, Charlotte, North Carolina,

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