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Michigan Member Visits Wind Down President Doug Coster's Tour

Jun 07, 2017

During the first week of May, PMPA President, Doug Coster made his final round of member visits and Chapter PRT meetings. With PMPA Executive Director Bernie Nagle alongside, Doug began the week in the Detroit area with a visit to Tompkins Products where they met with Charles Tompkins III, President; Tracy Skupien, GM; and Charles Tompkins IV. Things are very busy in the automotive world and Tompkins’ operations are buzzing with motion. They say Detroit is suffering economically, but it is hard to tell by the high level of activity on the Tompkins shop floor. Zero-defect expectation by their customers demands scrupulous attention to detail, constant vigilance and a lot of training, according to Tracy Skupien.

Next stop was Fox Manufacturing on the shore (literally) of Lake St Clair. Owner, Steve Fox explained the reason he has a two-story building is that the real estate is so expensive in this lakeside community, there was no way to expand but up! As a third generation owner, Steve related stories of his high school days when he would travel by motor boat to work for his dad at the shop. That has to be the best commuting story we have heard in our travels so far.

Next, Doug and Bernie traveled to Swiss American Screw Products to visit with Rob Leist, a second gen owner whose father came here from Switzerland. Rob, a cycling enthusiast, was proud to show his visitors a wide variety of small, complex parts with medical and aerospace origins. One particular part caught Bernie’s eye and he asked if he could have a sample to add to his parts collection on his desk. Rob accommodated Bernie’s request and explained that particular piece was a stainless steel body piercing. So far, that piece is the most unique part Bernie has collected. When asked at the PRT meeting to model the part in his lip, Bernie declined.

On to Plymouth, MI where our travelers met with Mark Evasic, President of Master Automatic and a third gen owner. As one of our larger members, Master has a wide variety of machines and capabilities. However, it wasn’t always that way – the business was started by Mark’s grandfather in an old gas station in 1942 with one Brown & Sharpe machine. What a wonderful multi-generational success story. Welcome to PMPA, Master Automatic! Very pleased to have you as part of our growing family.

After the well-attended Southeast Michigan Chapter PRT meeting Tuesday evening, (kudos to Kevin Johnson) Doug and Bernie headed west on Wednesday morning and landed at Tribal Manufacturing, an Associate Member with deep experience in brass and plumbing parts. Tim Rowley and Scott Young hosted a tour and very interesting conversation about the history of the business.  After Tribal, they headed to Holland, Michigan and Precision Metal Products Company. Mark Drooger, President and third generation owner, showed them the operation and introduced them to his sons Cody and Jake, who are both part of the business. 

The last tour of the day was Supreme Machined Products in Spring Lake where brother and sister, Greg Olson and Andrea Jackson greeted them and led a tour of their facility. The Spring Lake plant is only half of the business, as they also have a similar-sized plant in China.  It was great to see how busy the plant was; in fact it was great to see how busy all our member facilities have been since January.

Our travelers ended their day over dinner, with Skip Westmaas, owner of Steadfast Engineered Products.  Snug Harbor Restaurant in Grand Haven MI is nestled right on the river where it empties into Lake Michigan and makes for a relaxing venue for great dinner and even better conversation.  Skip is a true entrepreneur who started the business with a dream and a lot of ambition and hard work. When asked how he receives value from PMPA, Skip says he makes back his PMPA dues in the careful buying and selling of used machines; certainly one of the most interesting answers we have heard.

The Michigan plant visits concluded on Thursday morning with a visit to Micron Manufacturing and 1st Vice President Mike Preston. Anyone who has seen Mike’s plant knows what a great operation it is. Not one to toot his own horn, (I know Mike is blushing as he reads this) but if you have a chance to visit and tour his plant and speak to his people you are bound to learn something of value. Micron even has laminated work instructions and a 5S cart for cleaning the restrooms, at which Mike takes his turn. (see attached picture)

The well-attended Western Michigan Chapter PRT luncheon was held at Mill Creek Tavern (kudos to Mike Smith). Doug Coster gave his last PRT presentation as PMPA President, and our incoming President, Mike Preston, made sure Doug would not forget the occasion. He presented Doug with a cupcake decorated with a birthday candle and led the group in a salute to the outgoing president. As they say, “A good time was had by all.”