Sister companies GB Manufacturing and Par-Kan Co. bring innovations to the Work Truck Show.

By Jim Harris

Mark Ries knew from an early age that there was one big problem faced by people who work with tools. “My father was a carpenter, and I worked with him from when I was eight years old into my mid-20s,” he says. “It seemed like every time I went to the tool box, the tool I needed was always on the bottom.”

Ries – who now works as vice president of sales and engineering for GB Manufacturing and GB Fabrication, a metal fabrication company based in Delta, Ohio with divisions in Shiloh and Shelby, Ohio – recently had an idea that would solve this problem. “I wanted to put a door on the front of it; that way, you could just open the door and get what you wanted from the bottom,” he says.

During development of the toolbox, a few of Ries’ colleagues from GB Fabrication had additional suggestions about further uses. “One member of the team said this could be turned into a dog box,” Ries says. “We also realized the top shelf would be a great place to store guns.”


With a newly formed management team, H.S. Die is working to diversify further into automation, and re-establish itself as the North American leader in injection molding design and production.

By Bianca Herron

Since its inception, H.S. Die & Engineering has prided itself on helping to advance the manufacturing industry with its expertise in injection mold design and production, as well as custom-designed and -built automation equipment.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company has made major investments in machine tool and machining practice technology, and has actively researched and developed new techniques and tooling. H.S. Die’s commitment to new technology and manufacturing practices began in 1978 with a major investment in computerized design and machining capabilities. It was one of the first companies in the industry to utilize CAD/CAM technology, and has since been at the forefront of development and deployment of design and programming software.

What began as a garage shop and a vision has grown into a multi-facility company and leader in the mold-making industry. Husband-and-wife Harold and Marcia Steele founded the company in 1969, and today Marcia Steele remains the sole owner and CEO of the company.

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PTM Corporation is doubling its manufacturing capabilities and expanding its customer base.  

By Kat Zeman

PTM Corporation is moving into new territories. A full-service metal stamping supplier, the company purchased a 1,000-ton press line that will nearly double its tonnage capabilities and allow it to expand its customer-base.

“We’re ecstatic,” says Donna Russell-Kuhr, president and CEO. “This puts us into another product offering category and we can pursue new customers.”

The Fair Haven, Mich.-based company specializes in design assistance, prototyping, four slide and progressive die design/building and short/long-term production runs. It has expert engineers, state-of-the-art CAD systems and world-class tooling facilities.

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Conex Cable increases its offerings by adding a galvanized steel wire production line.

By Jim Harris

Conex Cable LLC prides itself on its ability to react quickly to its customers’ needs. “We can make anything happen in an emergency or on short notice; our quick response is our greatest strength,” says Jerry Bills, a consultant to the company for more than 25 years. “We recently had a customer from California call us to say they needed something to be in Hawaii in a hurry. That was prepared for shipment the next day.”

The company’s management team is in constant contact with its customers as well as sales, manufacturing and facility teams. “We are a very lean and mean company,” says Plant Manager Charles Dobbel, a 14-year veteran of the company with 40-plus years of industry experience. “We have a small management staff that gives us the ability to take action when needed without going through corporate bureaucracy.”


Loewen’s high quality and attention to detail make it the preferred wood window and door provider for ultra-luxury homes.

By Tim O’Connor

Many of the best craft manufacturers have one thing in common: they invest heavily in their skilled workers and keep them around for the long haul. It’s no different at window and door frame manufacturer Loewen, where continuous improvement and strong professional development are intrinsic to the culture.

The Canadian company works with employees early on to understand their interests and identify opportunities within its organization so that they are more likely to stick with Loewen as they advance in their careers. Those efforts have helped the company counteract the generational attitude shift that has millennial workers changing jobs more frequently than their predecessors.

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