Steve Johnson's career in the area of tooling management and maintenance was built around something his father taught him from childhood whenever he and his brothers built or repaired anything: "Remember that someone will have to maintain this." Johnson was recently named as the SPE's Mold Making and Mold Design Division's 2014 Mold Designer of the Year.
Johnson's career in mold maintenance and repair began after he left the military and went to work for Calmar Inc., an OEM specializing in high-production caps and closures for a variety of consumer products. He tells the story that on his first day on the job they set an old insulated hot runner on his bench and said, "Here Johnson. Fix this." When he asked where the maintenance manual was, they threw him a log book with handwritten scribbles. "This was the motivation I needed to begin developing MoldTrax, a documentation system for molds. As of today, it is the only one like it in the industry, bar none," says Johnson.
He stayed with Calmar for 24 years, honing his craft along with the MoldTrax system, and taking evening courses in mechanical design at Southern State Community College. In 1998, he was invited to write an article on mold maintenance for Injection Molding Magazine. From that article, Johnson was invited to create a four-hour, then an eight-hour mold maintenance course to present around the country for a training company called TechTracks (no relation to MoldTrax).
In 2000, Johnson released MoldTrax while working as Tooling Manager for an Abbott Labs facility in Ohio, while continuing to give his seminars. In 2004, he met Glenn and Don Starkey of Progressive Components at a trade show, and they offered him the opportunity to take his maintenance training program to the next level—out of hotels and into a facility. "I came aboard and began building the Toolingdocs Maintenance Training center in Ashland, OH. "And oh what fun it was!" says Johnson. "I love setting up shops."
As the founder of Tooling Docs and the MoldTrax mold maintenance system, Johnson put his father's lesson into practice and built a business around it that today is a business unit of Progressive Components.
Along with the award, Johnson received a $500 honorarium to be presented to the school of his choosing, made possible through a generous donation from Progressive Components Inc.
"Our products, methods, and systems are being used around the globe at this time. We are the only company that specializes in this field," Johnson says. "I feel honored to be a driving part of that and appreciative of the Starkey brothers for giving me the opportunity to grow this unique and challenging trade."