Michigan Toolmakers In New Alliance

April 30, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan tool, die and mold makers recently united in a new association called the Coalition for the Advancement of Michigan Tooling Industries (CAMTI). 

“CAMTI will fill an important void for Michigan’s tooling industries,” said Joe Gill of Gill Tool & Die/Gill Industries in Grand Rapids.

“There are about 1,600 tooling companies in Michigan, 75 to 80 percent of which have fewer than 50 employees — the average number is probably closer to 15 to 20 employees,” he said.  “Our industry is incredibly fragmented.”

“When it comes to Michigan tooling industry and small business issues, our voice should be much louder,” agreed Rob Olsen of Model Die and Mold, also of Grand Rapids, and chairman of the West Michigan Chapter of the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA).

“Michigan has more tooling companies and workers than any state in the country,” added Dave Rasmussen of PQ Enterprise, a third local firm. 

“It is time we come together and take advantage of our collective size so that policymakers in Washington and Lansing finally understand the urgency of the issues facing these industries.”

The coalition’s concerns focus not only on the stress that globalization is inflicting upon its members, but also upon the tax and health handicaps that federal law imposes upon all small businesses. 

Other co-founding companies and organizations in CAMTI are: Atlas Tool Inc.; PQ Enterprise; Schmald Tool and Die; Paragon Die & Engineering Co.; D-M-E Co.; Model Die & Mold Inc.; Precision Industries Inc.; and The Right Place Program, greater Grand Rapids’ regional economic development organization.

Other founding groups are the Growth Alliance of Genesee County; the Center for Automotive Research (CAR)/Altarum; and the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC). 

CAMTI’s goals are also supported by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and the AMBA’s West Michigan chapter.

CAMTI is contacting and inviting all Michigan-based tooling companies to become members. Coalition spokesmen will also seek members from other constituencies affected by competitive developments in the tooling sector, such as local chambers of commerce, suppliers, purchasers and lending institutions.

“There are thousands and thousands of tooling company workers throughout Michigan, supporting hundreds and hundreds of non-tooling businesses of all sizes,” said Michelle Cleveland of The Right Place Program. “These workers and their companies tend to be forgotten, however, because they live in the political shadow of the Big Three and Michigan-based Tier Ones.

“But the tooling industries are vital to Kent County … as they are to Genesee, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Wayne, Oakland, to name just a few,” she said.  “We need these industries healthy.”

CAMTI’s immediate agenda includes elevating the awareness of federal and state policymakers of the critical importance of tooling industries to tens of thousands of workers, certain state economies, consuming industries such as automotive, furniture, high-tech and medical, and to the national security.

“CAMTI will be an important complement to such national associations, as the National Tooling and Machining Association and the American Mold Builders Association,” said Sanford “Sandy” Ring of Dykema Gossett PLLC, counsel to CAMTI. 

“We believe that the very characteristics that set CAMTI apart — its outreach to affected non-tooling constituents and its focus on Michigan-based interests — will also enhance its contribution to the broader tooling industry effort.”

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