Michigan moldmaker takes home top AMBA honors

March 31, 2010

The American Mold Builders Assn. (AMBA), the only industry trade association dedicated exclusively to U.S. mold manufacturers and their suppliers, awarded the Mold Builder of the Year to Andrew Baker, project manager for Byrne Tool & Die Inc. in Rockford, MI. Baker received the award at the AMBA Annual Convention held March 24 in Orlando, FL.

Baker, as part of Byrne Tool, has been a member of the AMBA since 2003. He has served on the West Michigan Chapter board and on the scholarship committee since 2004, and works actively to support the Chapter in a variety of ways, including organizing the first-ever Chapter golf outing, which was very successful in raising money for the Chapter’s Scholarship Fund.

Andrew Baker, project manager for Byrne Tool & Die, and AMBA's Mold Builder of the Year.

Baker promotes moldmaking as a career at the local high school’s Career Day and is currently doing beta testing for a new training company specializing in tool and die training. He also actively lobbies to promote industry awareness through efforts such as going to Washington, DC and meeting regularly with local representatives to share his viewpoints. As a result of this activity, Baker receives regular weekly updates from his Congressional officials.

Baker also actively promotes employee involvement and social awareness by taking the entire company to help with Habitat for Humanity projects.

Baker’s contributions to Byrne Tool & Die’s success include helping the company increase its sales every year since 2003, and the company expected a 10% gain in 2009. In 2008, Baker was instrumental in creating a strategic sales plan to enhance sales and help the company move into new markets, while targeting new customers. Byrne Tool embraces lean principles and coined it “Common Sense Manufacturing” or CSM, creating many metrics that monitor the company’s effectiveness throughout the entire system.

Byrne Tool continues to invest in new equipment, technology, and employees, and works with machine tool vendors to provide the best in new tool technology. The company works with other area mold companies to learn best practices so that every shop can grow through sharing.

Byrne Tool also developed its website, www.byrne-tool.com, to provide value-added services such as an online job-tracking system that allows customers to log in and, among other things, check the progress of their new tooling and download progress reports. Baker’s contribution to the company in all of these areas has helped the company achieve sustainable growth and increased profits while reducing lead time by 30% and providing customers with a good-quality mold at a competitive price.

Baker says that he loves working at Byrne Tool. “It’s very rewarding to work here because it’s an innovative shop. It’s been great to watch the company grow even through a down economy. It’s been fun, challenging, and rewarding watching the company grow as we’ve implemented things such as lean manufacturing and created a self-directed workforce. We truly want to be leaders in the market.”

Baker began his apprenticeship with a diecast company after finishing high school, but moved into molds for plastics, and has been in the industry since 1995. He has continued his education, earning his Journeyman’s card, moving up to moldmaker, and then into sales, quality, and project management. Baker now runs all day-to-day activities in the shop. He is currently working toward a BS degree in Business Administration and taking classes to improve sales and management skills.

“Receiving this award was a real surprise,” Baker comments. “The AMBA has some great moldmakers and to receive this award was so amazing to me. Even though the award says Andrew Baker on it, it’s really a reflection of all the people here at Byrne Tool and the great work that we do here.  It showcases the whole shop.” Clare Goldsberry

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