TMA began in 1925 when Sam Swenson of Midwestern Tool Company and Ben Irmis of Superior Tool Works discussed the need for cooperation among metalworkers in the Chicago area. The two were concerned that tooling firms were “cutting each other’s throats,” and destroying the possibility of Chicago ever becoming a great metalworking center. They planned a gathering with the hopes of convincing fellow company owners to work together to solve problems facing their trade.
The twenties were fervid times in our country’s history. They represented a period of change, confusion and excitement. While the whispers from the “Speak-Easies” could be heard clearly and the “Talkies” had just been released from Hollywood, men were preparing transatlantic flights and rocket testing was beginning to appear.
Like the people and the events of this capricious yet colorful era, the tooling industry reflected disquieted times as well. The Chicago area tooling trade in 1925 was suffering from a rash of overzealous companies trying to secure a footing in this young business. Many firms found it necessary to carry to extremes the practice of slashing prices to attract customers and remain competitive. Although it was a legal and commonly used method, left unattended would create a never ending spiral and ultimately result in the demise of the tooling industry in Chicago. A few foresighted individuals realized that price wars were not the answers in stabilizing this trade and therefore, began channeling their efforts to improve the situation. What was needed, was a means of educating the members of the industry on how to build a cohesive and healthy business environment based on sound estimating practices.
Sam Swenson of Midwestern Tool Company and Ben Irmis of Superior Tool Works discussed this matter with a business agent of the local metalworking union. He encouraged that immediate action be taken because, not only were tooling firms “cutting each other’s throats,” but they were destroying the possibility of Chicago ever becoming a great metalworking center. It was decided to organize a meeting of as many competitive firms as possible. At that meeting emphasis would be placed on the severity of the business climate in this industry and what was needed to correct it. Several meetings between Irmis and Swenson were held in preparation for this major assembly. The program they planned had to show merit if they hoped to convince tooling companies to coordinate their efforts in solving the problems that were plaguing their trade. Finally, 20 companies were persuaded to attend a meeting at the Morrison Hotel in August of 1925. At that meeting the sum and substance of weeks of planning would be unveiled.
Alderman Oscar Nelson, a labor man, was the guest speaker that evening. He spoke on the ”Value of Associations” and their importance in all aspects of the business world. His speech initiated a welcome response from the audience. Many companies expressed an interest however, at the end of the meeting only eight firms came to the same conclusion,…that an association for the Chicago tooling industry was needed. These eight men were aware of the unprotected situation in their industry and that an association could provide the needed education and offer leadership and strength.
This mutual agreement laid the foundation for the Die, Tool, Special Machinery and Manufacturers Association, later to be named the Tool & Die Institute. S. Swenson, Midwestern Tool Company; C. Danielson, Service Tool Die & Mfg. Co.; J.A. McLeod, J.A. McLeod; R. Groetchen, Groetchen Tool & Mfg. Co.; E. J. Gorman, Utility Tool Works; H. Radler, Surety Tool & Die Works; E. F. Bachner, Plymouth Mfg. Co.; and B. Irmis, Superior Tool Works; provided the catalyst and the manpower in establishing an organization that would one day become the voice of the tooling industry throughout the seven county Chicago Metropolitan area.
On August 27, 1925, at the Swedish Engineer Society the first recorded meeting of this forthcoming association was held. The anxiety was high among those in attendance and they wasted little time in the construction of this organization. At that meeting Sam Swenson was nominated temporary Chairman and Ben Irmis temporary Secretary. It was suggested that a name for the association should be the first item of business. The Chairman appointed E. J. Gorman, E.F. Bachner and R. Groetchen to function as a committee and develop some ideas for a name. The evening continued with serious discussion and the scheduling of the next meeting.
The news traveled quickly that an association had been started for the tooling trade. By the second meeting, which was only fourteen days later at the Morrison Hotel, more companies were in line to join the original eight. A vote was taken at that meeting and a unanimous “Yes” gave all those in attendance rights and privileges derived from this newly founded association. A committee of three was then formed to prepare a draft of the rules, By-Laws and aims of the association. Another committee comprised of all the members was to function as a Membership Committee and generate interest in this association among other companies.
By the end of September the reality of this association was no longer in the stars. The ground work had begun, the membership was growing, By-Laws had been established and goals were being set. The election of formal officers was the next stage of development. There was little question in anyone’s mind who should be the first regular President of the Die, Tool, Special Machinery and Manufacturers Association (DTSMMA). Max P. Heinze, a most able man, was unanimously elected. Max’s sincere desire for achievement would be seen throughout his leadership from 1925-1931.
For the next three years the work of the association centered around two objectives: “First, to promote the business interests of the members, and Second, to improve the social and industrial relationships of the members and to foster the exchange of courtesies.”
It was in the area of promoting members’ services that the first major undertaking of this association began. To show the range of possible services available in Chicago, a written composite of all the association’s members, their services and their representatives was made. This booklet was the forerunner of our present day “Purchasing Guide & Directory” which has remained a valuable tool in promoting the members over the years. In addition to this means of advertising, DTSMMA began a monthly publication called “The Round Table,” later renamed “The National Die Builder.” This magazine was sponsored by the association and had a circulation of about 10,000. These two publications, however, proved to be more than just a vehicle for drumming up business. They were credited with helping the association soar in membership size. So rapid was the growth, that within three years the association had grown from a meager eight companies to over 100 members. This increase in membership necessitated some changes and additions to the organization. One addition was the hiring of George R. Tuthill to assume the role as full-time secretary. DTSMMA had reached that size when complete attention to the organization was needed. It was too difficult for the members to handle all areas of association management and control their personal businesses as well. Therefore, working closely with the officers Tuthill began to tackle the management responsibilities of the organization.
The tooling situation in Chicago was not unique to the United States. Other metalworking areas were experiencing similar problems with competition and poor business ethics. As DTSMMA continued to grow, its story traveled to other regions and a deep interest in membership from firms outside the Chicago area developed. This outside interest inspired the members to study the possibility of extending its boundaries.
With the year 1929 just around the corner DTSMMA voted to broaden its scope and encompass members from other regions. The By-Laws were changed to incorporate this new expansion and the association’s name was even altered. This organization was now known as the National Die & Special Tool Builders Association (NDSTBA).
Although 1929 brought national stature to this association, it also delivered a crushing blow to our nation’s economy. On October 29, the worst stock market crash in the history of our country occurred hurling the United States into a severe depression. Now more than ever the strength and guidance of NDSTBA was put to a test.
Even though the depression imposed difficult times, it did not stop this organization from continuing its services or halt its growth. This was evident when George Tuthill returned from a trip to Cleveland, Ohio with a petition from eleven companies requesting permission to establish a Cleveland branch. By the end of July, 1930, nineteen applications from Cleveland had been received.
The dark shadow of the depression continued to hover over the country during the early thirties. Although work was scarce, most companies retained their membership with NDSTBA because, it was for many, their only means of keeping abreast with the prevailing conditions of their industry.
To try and insure that the association remained strong during these hard times, efforts were made to spawn continued interest in NDSTBA. Two programs were started that united the enthusiasm of the members. An evening course in estimating and cost accounting was started and a credit bureau for the use of the members was established. Although the credit bureau drew little attention and soon dissolved, the evening estimating classes proved to be successful and were destined to develop into our present day apprentice program.
Probably one of the most remembered outgrowths of the early thirties was the enactment of the National Recovery Act (NRA) in 1933. This Act created a great deal of anxiety within the industry and within the structure of this association. This Act was “…to encourage national industrial recovery, to foster fair competition, and to provide for the construction of certain useful public works, and for other purposes.” The NRA “…provided for the federal control of the entire industrial structure of the country through the mechanism of codes drawn up by government administration and special industries.”
Restrictions were placed upon trade and industrial associations in relation to receiving government assistance. The major ruling was that organizations must be representative of the entire nation. Although NDSTBA had members in Cleveland, Ohio it did not reflect the required national scope. Therefore, in Cleveland a group of concerned business individuals expeditiously formed a national association known as the Special Tool, Die and Machine Shop Institute (STDMSI).
NDSTBA involvement with this new organization followed quickly. Our name once again was changed to Special Tool, Die and Machine Shop Institute, Chicago District. This switch in association structure and in filing of a Fair Competition code enabled our industry to receive the support of the NRA.
STDMSI had weathered many turbulent and spirited times during that first decade. Those early years (1925-1935) saw the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”; the untimely death of Knute Rockne; the end of prohibition; the passage of the Social Security Act; and the rise and fall of the NRA. The Association however, did not just sit by viewing the change and metamorphosis of the surrounding world. Inside the organization there was expansion, in both programs and membership size, By-Law changes and the interest shown in establishing local branches. The activity that was displayed by STDMSI in ten years was just a small showing of its potential yet to be tapped.
1936 unfurled new responses in many Americans. The public began shaking off the dust of the depression and was getting out and doing things. More people attended athletic events in 1936 than ever before. Movies enjoyed their most prosperous year since the depression. Activity and involvement began to flourish in Americans once again.
Involvement was the key word in our organization as well. Even during the lull of the depression the Institute tackled the problems of the day. Now, with the opening of another decade for STDMSI, came a fresh look at the future.
For the next three years Karl Harig would fill the elected office of President of the Institute. His experience in the industry coupled with the interest of the membership would provide the Association with the proper working attitude.
During the late thirties the Institute saw the expansion of its estimating and design courses to two classes to accommodate the 100 students that enrolled. This growth in participation of these studies sparked the development of a complete curriculum for apprentice training in tool, die, and mold making. A severe shortage of manpower at that time helped stimulate the push for such a training program.
As if the shortage of skilled craftsmen was not bad enough, a second wave of the depression hit in late ’37, causing new fears in those who had just begun recovering from 1929. However, the Institute continued to function. One of its major endeavors at that time was the fighting of the Machine Shop Ordinance. Just as our members were stabilizing themselves from the effects of the recession, the City of Chicago levied this new tax. The bill grouped all related metalworking shops into the classification of “Machine Shop” and taxed them accordingly.
The Institute went to bat for its members by attempting to secure some form of revision in this Ordinance. Members refused to pay the fees until such time when the City Council would grant a re-hearing. The new hearing was granted and the membership voiced their reasons for why the law was unfair. After several days of head-on confrontation the Ordinance was upheld; however, the loss was not as great as it first appeared. More so, the Institute was able to show its “colors” for its members and prove to many that STDMSI was eager and supportive of its members under all circumstances.
The 1930’s closed on an upswing for many. Science had discovered the Rh factor in blood, American ladies for the first time could purchase nylon stockings and people were humming the tunes from the Broadway hit musical “Du Barry Was A lady.” Although the thirties created challenges that seemed at times insurmountable, they were the years that showed the true strength of our Association.
Perhaps one of the busiest periods of time for this Association was during World War II. It was during the early forties that there was much change within the Institute as well as the industry and the world.
Local districts of STDMSI lost interest in the national organization after NRA was dissolved and signs of a stable economy were beginning to show. Business began picking up, partially due to the outbreak of the war in Europe and therefore, the need for a national group became obscured by the prosperity being experienced locally. Our name was even changed in 1943 to the Tool & Die Institute (T&DI) and we were once again an independent local trade Association.
The United States retained its self sufficient and non-involvement attitude at the onset of the European conflicts with Nazism. Yet, as Hitler raked his way through Poland and headed towards France, a growing concern developed among American officials. Then on December 7, 1941 our side-line seat was pulled out from under us by the Japanese Air Force and “Remember Pearl Harbor” was the cry heard throughout America.
To meet the demands of war, industry as well as the American people felt the tugs of many restraints being applied. The national speed limit was reduced to 35 mph; gasoline curfews were enforced; rationing of rubber, sugar, canned goods, meats, fats, and cheese occurred; and governmental controls on industry were levied. All industries had to gear themselves to the war effort and the only civilian work allowed was for the manufacturing of consumer necessities. This change-over created a booming business environment for the tooling industry. It also spirited many companies into T&DI membership. Firms found it extremely difficult to meet the production demands and keep abreast with all the new regulations and restrictions. However, the war brought with it as many problems as it did benefits to the Association. Perhaps the biggest difficulty T&DI had to face during this time was the “Draft”.
The tooling industry had always been plagued with a shortage of skilled manpower and now with Selective Service, the situation began to worsen. Over 20% of the work force in our industry at that time was in the draftable age bracket. Col. Oliver G. Wyman said “…industry would have to tighten its belt and be prepared to release even the most highly skilled.” To combat the draft the Institute approached the problem from several directions.
To begin its efforts, the Association established an informational relationship with Colonel Armstrong, Director of Selective Service in Illinois. With his help T&DI opened up a communication channel with the local draft boards. This open line enabled the Institute’s members to make individual requests for occupational deferments for their men. This first attempt to stop the conscription of Tool & Die Makers was a stepping stone for getting our story told.
Our next approach was to contact George Huebner, publisher of The Tool & Die Journal in Cleveland. He agreed to promote banning the draft for skilled workers in his magazine. The Institute did not stop there with its efforts. Many letters protesting this practice paraded forth from the Institute as well and appeared in major area newspapers and magazines. This fight against the conscription of tool and die makers was intensified when 50 of the Institute’s members with jigs and fixtures in hand, marched on the Selective Service Board Headquarters in Chicago. The purpose of this demonstration was to show the value of the craftsmen by displaying some of the work they did for the advancement of the war effort. Also, trips were made to Washington to make direct appeals to Federal officials of the Selective Service. In some cases the efforts of T&DI to stop the Draft were merely “delay tactics” in hope of keeping the men at their jobs longer.
Although the Draft absorbed a great deal of the Institute’s attention, it was not the only concern. Since one of the basic tenets of the Association was to provide better communications among tooling firms, the Institute started a weekly News Bulletin under the direction of George W. Rockwood, Executive Secretary. He piloted this service for 20 years into a mainstream of continuous communication throughout the Association. Special items were written also, to expand the awareness of our industry. Stuart Sinclair and William White, Jr. wrote a booklet entitled “The Tool & Die Industry Comes of Age” which was published jointly by T&DI and the National Tool and Die Manufacturers Association (NTDMA founded in 1943).
Two other problem areas that the Institute focused on during WWII were “labor pirating” and the sales tax laws. Labor pirating consisted of the practice of enticing a valuable skilled worker to quit one company and go to work for another. Although this practice never reached epidemic proportion it did create commotion among many members of T&DI. A Freeze was passed to help curb this practice by making it financially unprofitable to change jobs. This law and the fact that the members remained objective and respected each other, reduced the intimidation of this problem. On the other hand the tax issue presented a different situation.
A ruling was passed down in the mid forties concerning the Illinois State Sales Tax that posed some potentially severe difficulties for the Institute members. A new amendment to the law stated that our industry had to pay the Retailer Occupational Tax. The tooling trade had always taken the position that it was a special order business and not subject to this tax. However, with this new ruling, T&DI hired a lawyer and proceeded to fight the bill. Not only was the ruling defeated in the Superior Court but our work in this area proved to be a big boost in membership procurement.
In 1945 the Institute reached the twenty year milestone of service. That same year brought both sorrow and joy to Americans. On April 12, 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt died just one month before Germany surrendered to the Allied forces. Then in the early days of August the first Atomic Bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Eight days later, August 14, 1945, Japan signed an unconditional surrender and the WAR WAS OVER.
Many problems came to bear upon the Institute during its second decade of existence however, the major brunt of these problems arose out of the War. Work in the areas of taxes, the “draft”, government regulations and restrictions kept T&DI more than busy. The end of the war also created some difficulties that the Association would take on in the following years.
The outlook for the Tooling Industry in Chicago was good at the beginning of 1946. The war was over, Truman removed price ceilings on heavy machine tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, molds…and wage controls were ended. The complexion of the trade was healthy as T&DI enthusiastically stepped into its third era.
Programs that developed during the late forties included the “Technical Luncheon,” a forerunner to our present day “Technical Travelogue,” and an extensive local area industry advertising campaign. The campaign attempted to influence captive houses to “farm out” work to contract plants. During this same period, T&DI President Bob White (1946) activated the “Flying Squad.” This group, comprised of Board members, promoted attendance for meetings, social affairs and stimulated interest in various T&DI projects. Many times these men came to the rescue, when the occasion demanded, to give the Institute a lift. Each of these programs gathered momentum and were useful in the growth of the Association.
By 1948 the Institute was 267 strong and progressing steadily. T&DI’s night school design course was reinstated after being discontinued during the war. So great was the interest in the revival of this course that by the end of the year more classes had to be added.
Another area of importance to the Institute was legislative affairs. This was seen in the statement communicated to Congress by T&DI and NTDMA. It concerned itself with the “Needs of Contract Tool & Die Manufacturers in Labor Legislation.”
Although Americans quickly adapted to the pleasures of peacetime, their enjoyment was short lived. The “Cold War” between Russia and America brought new fear into the world,…then on June 25, 1950, North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea. With this invasion U.S. ground forces went into battle and America was again at war!
The same problems that plagued our industry during WWII became issues once more in the Korean War. New and old war restrictions were imposed and Federal controls on industry were again reimplemented. The drafting of skilled craftsmen also became an important situation. Although the government listed the tooling industry as an essential activity and tool & die makers and mold makers as critical occupations for war production, the draft still posed obstacles for T&DI members.
It was during the Korean War that the Institute implemented a group insurance program for its members. The service was destined to be a major addition to T&DI. The Benefit Association of Railroad Employees (B.A.R.E.) was the original carrier/underwriter and has remained with the Institute since that time. Now renamed the Benefit Trust Life Insurance Co., BTLI’s aid and expertise was greatly utilized in the organization of the insurance trust and in June of 1952, the first trust meeting was held. Twenty-six companies, representing 316 employees, enrolled in the insurance program at its onset. Twenty-three years later more than 600 companies, representing over 10, 000 employees actively participate in this service. Over the years the Group Insurance program has proven to be one of the most significant contributions to membership procurement.
On July 27, 1952, the Korean Armistice was signed and American troops were on their way home. The Post Korean War years were healthy years for our economy. In 1954 the stock exchange prices were the highest since 1929 with a volume of over 573 million. Three out of five households had T.V. sets even though the market was only seven years old. Not only was the economy doing well but other areas of American life showed signs of progress. April 12, 1955, Jonas E. Salk developed the Anti-Polio vaccine and perhaps the biggest merger of the decade took place when the AFL and the CIO became one functioning body.
The tooling industry began to breathe more freely once the controls were again eliminated and this was reflected in the Association’s planning. Our membership was growing and preparation was taken to purchase land to house our own office building.
Even though this decade, like the previous decade, was marked with the indelible stamp of War, it was a prosperous and active period in our history. Americans experienced the first color television broadcast, the election of General Eisenhower as President, the “Cold War” and the Truman Doctrine. Gary Cooper starred in “High Noon” and popular songs of the day were “Younger Than Springtime,” “Bali Hai,” and “Mr. Sandman.” It was a full ten years packed with war, happiness, sorrow and peace.
1956 heralded the fourth stage of development for the Tool & Die Institute. The next ten years would be viewed as a period of new beginnings and direction for the Association. In the society outside of T&DI, the years to follow would be viewed as an era of upheaval. The space race, civil rights movements, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Vietnam would all contribute to a new period of tension that would leave lasting memories on all Americans.
The Institute continued to be hit by reoccurring problems. Sales tax issues or the “draft” always seemed to crop up. The same was true of the alleged practice of pirating craftsmen. This problem would loom larger or smaller in proportion to the business picture. It would hit at apprentices as well as journeymen. In 1956 this problem was compounded when non-resident Tool & Die Manufacturers landed on the West bank of Lake Michigan and began to encourage apprentices to move to other Mid-West cities. A similar maneuver was attempted in Cleveland, Ohio. However, with the help of the Illinois Director of Labor and the Illinois Employment Service, T&DI was able to curb this threat to its membership.
As the membership grew and more committee activities and special projects developed, the Institute began looking for a more suitable location for its office. Many of the new members were starting their businesses in the North and Northwest areas of the city and many of the established companies were migrating in this direction. Because of this apparent Northwest movement, the T&DI office needed to be more centrally located to properly service its membership. In 1957, 2435 North Laramie Street, Chicago, Illinois, became the new home for the Association.
Around that same time legislation proposing to broaden the sales tax in Illinois was introduced. Once again the struggle between our industry’s position and state government imposition began. Like the past confrontations, this one was defeated although, not before much time and effort and money was expended.
During the mid fifties the apprentice program became more structured. The loose four year curriculum was now formally written, an apprentice aptitude test was created, and by 1960 apprentice enrollment was up 40% from the previous year. This annual growth increase was to climb even higher by 1965 when the enrollment approached the 1,000 mark.
In 1963 George W. Rockwood informed the Board of Directors that the time had come for him to step down from his position as Executive Vice President. George had served the Institute faithfully and displayed exactness in his leadership for twenty years. The Board persuaded George to remain on until a qualified successor was chosen and properly rehearsed in his responsibilities.
Thomas E. De Pinto, a young man of 36, was hired as the new Staff Executive. Mr. Rockwood worked closely with Tom until October of 1964 when GWR retired.
It was soon after TED took office that an exciting opportunity presented itself to the Board members of the Institute. Under the Civilian Orientation Program of the U.S. Air Force, some 17 T&DI Board members and past Presidents were invited to participate in a tour of Arnold Engineering Center in Tennessee and then of Cape Kennedy. This program was designed to increase the awareness of the businessman on how his tax dollar was working for him. The tour not only provided personal pleasures for those who attended but enabled these men to share their newly gained knowledge with the entire membership.
Forty years old and the Tool & Die Institute showed no signs of wear. New services and programs were constantly being planned and sought after. An orientation program was started for new members so they could quickly become familiar with the numerous offerings of the Association. This service has proved to be a valuable means of communication. Also, a pension plan was implemented. Only a handful of companies originally signed up for this program, buy over the years it has been demonstrated to be a worthwhile service that grows in value. Because of the large enrollment in our apprentice training program an Apprentice News Letter was started to keep the great number of students abreast of the developments in their educational program.
The invasion of the Beatles upon the American scene was a typical reflection of the day. The sixties were alive with new experiences and with change. Space orbits, blockades, clean air promotions, T.V. Quiz Show scandals and riots reflected a volatile and highly sensitized society. And like the environment surrounding it, T&DI showed signs of change and broadened thoughts.
“. . . one small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind” – With these words the “United States” stepped on the surface of the moon. This event, like so many more, would typify the years between 1966-1975. New adventures and far reaching goals summed up the attitude of the world.
Long range thinking was demonstrated throughout the fifth decade for the Tool & Die Institute. Even with T&DI’s pension program still in its infant stage, plans were made to expand its coverage. Foreseeing that the future would dictate a more progressive pension structure, the Pension Trust implemented a “Super-Imposed” plan in addition to the “Basic” program. This new proposal provided appealing benefits, some of which offered substantial annuity and death benefits under an optional selection structure and the cost of the plan was deductible as a business expense. The Super-Imposed plan was particularly attractive to key personnel because the number of benefit options were more plentiful.
Another show of awareness for the years ahead on the part of the Institute was portrayed in a skit entitled “Tomorrow –Today.” This skit was presented to over 300 people at a general dinner meeting in 1966. The professionally directed play dramatized the changes facing the Tool & Die and Mold plants particularly those to be brought about by the introduction of numerical control machining. The presentation was highly praised for its content and professionalism.
Most Chicago area residents will remember the excitement of the winter of 1967. It will have particular memories for many of the T&DI members. On January 26, 1967, while the Institute began its day by preparing for an evening of enjoyment at the Annual Meeting, a typical winter snowfall began. By mid-afternoon the worst snow storm ever to hit Chicago blanketed the city. The Metropolitan area became motionless and without choice the ’67 Annual Meeting was cancelled. Let it be said, that it took a crippling blizzard to halt the Tool & Die Institute.
The closing years of the sixties found the Association knee-deep in new and expanded activities. In the field of apprentice training, it was anticipated that our enrollment would reach the 1,500 mark in ’68 and in 1969 T&DI conducted the largest Apprentice Completion Ceremonies in the history of the Institute. In that same year, a study was started on the feasibility of having Related Theory instruction for machinists.
Other areas were going strong as well. A new campaign was embarked upon with the development of an Association Safety Program, and in connection with Sentry Insurance and the National Tool, Die and Precision Machining Association a safety dividend plan was formulated. Also, the Institute became a charter member of the Wise Owl Club of America, sponsored by the National Society for the prevention of Blindness, which is designed to enhance the realization of the need for Eye Safety in the plant.
To hone up the membership’s senses in different areas many educational events were scheduled. A new type seminar – the Executive Excursion – co-sponsored with the University of Illinois was introduced; and, an in-depth research project was begun by an Ad Hoc Long Range Goals Committee to gather up the most up to date information on Marketing, Manpower and Money in the Chicagoland tooling industry. The latter activity culminated in a widely distributed publication entitled “Profile the Inter-Fusion of Reflections Re: The Tooling Industry In The Chicago Metropolitan Area”.
In addition to the above they introduced an Annual Technical Conference entitled the “Technical Travelogue”. The conference in 1968 saw an aggregate enrollment of over 500 persons.
Over 900 related metalworking firms comprised the membership of the Association as it entered the last leg of its first 50 years. The early years of the 1970’s continued with the same excitable climate of the 60’s. Vietnam persisted to be a thorn in the side of many Americans, the lingering pains of the 1969-70-71 recession, the Watergate scandal, Economic Controls, and inflation provided for an uncomfortable environment.
The Institute fist felt the effects of the recession in its apprentice training program. Enrollment dropped quickly to 855 students, a loss of over 350 in one year. Membership size also showed evidence of the tighter economy. Membership growth was stifled for some time. Yet the Association’s services did not stagnate.
To intensify the safety efforts of T&DI, a safety awards program was initiated and by 1971, one hundred and thirty-three companies were eligible for the award. Another award program was also developed. This program was designed to honor two notable individuals on an annual basis; one for his or her outstanding service to the industry and one for his or her distinguished contributions to the Institute. These awards were named after two industry pioneers, Max P. Heinze and John Winzeler, both of whom, when they were alive, promoted the high standards denoted by these Awards.
During the 1970’s a concentrated effort was applied to the evolution of metrics in the tooling industry. With the United Sates being the only major country in the world still working in conventional units, and with the changeover inevitable, T&DI began promoting metric’s future existence and need. Formal announcement of this program was seen in a Resolution passed by the Board of Directors of the Institute.
The Tool & Die Institute experienced two unique and very prestigious events in this same period of time. A conference on “American Industry in 1990” was conducted at the White House and T&DI was extended an invitation. Receiving an invitation from the Capitol made it apparent that the Institute was a viable and nationally respected organization.
The second important happening was playing host to a Japanese delegation when their tour of industrial centers brought them to Chicago. Plant tours of member companies were made available to this delegation. This opportunity not only allowed for the development of cultural courtesies but was an excellent occasion for T&DI members to exchange ideas and compare technologies.
In 1974 the Institute broke off the restraints of its old apprentice training curriculum and created a more progressive and viable Related Theory structure. No longer did the traditional four years of study apply. A three-year accelerated program was developed with more defined teaching procedures. The pioneering efforts of T&DI in vocational education was more proof that throughout fifty years, the Institute has always continued to strive for excellence.
As the first 50 years of T&DI came closer to an end, a long awaited goal was attained. On Wednesday, April 18, 1974, Accura Tool & Mold, Inc., became T&DI’s 1,000th member. Norman H. Andreasen (1974 T&DI President) presented Accura with a beautiful plaque commemorating this historic occasion at the spring dinner meeting. Over 200 guests were in attendance to welcome this new member and to mark this crowning achievement of the Tool & Die Institute.
T&DI Today & Tomorrow
The record shows that the Tool & Die Institute has come a long way since its humble beginning in 1925, however, its degree of success and/or value to the industry over the past half-century must be measured by each of its members, past, present and future and not by its growth record alone.
Over the years the Institute has tried to offer sound leadership and provide the most comprehensive services possible to its membership. The membership in turn has provided the Institute with cooperation and support which in nothing short of phenomenal.
Fifty years, although a great milestone to reach, is too early to adequately judge the merits of such an organization. We consider the first 50 years to have been a mere springboard into the challenging years ahead. It is the future that will help determine the place that the Institute will occupy in the history of the tooling industry.
The goal of the Officers, the Board of Directors, and Staff of the Tool & Die Institute, is that this Association will continue to earn its recognition as an integral part of the very distinguished and diversified Chicago Metropolitan Tooling Community.
As we close the pages on this Anniversary Booklet and we enter a new period, we are reminded of the words of the English poet Herrick who wrote: “If well thou has begun, go on; it is the end that crowns us, not the fight.”