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Industry in Need of Young Talent

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CHANNAHON, Ill., July 14, 2012 — Lee Hutchinson runs Metalstamp Inc., a tool-and-die and stamping operation that makes sophisticated products.The family-owned business makes precision components for automotive sensors and controls, medical, electronic and military stampings.

The technology is cutting edge, and business is brisk.

Hutchinson would like to see more young people getting interested in the tool-and-die trade.

“We have had 20 apprentices graduate over the years,” he said, “but the problem is, we are not getting young people and our educators to look at what this trade can offer. We have seen less interest in the trade and fewer applicants at our door.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, visited Metalstamp on Friday. He received a friendly reception, toured the 42,000-square-foot facility, and viewed its massive straight-side punch presses, ranging from 30- to 250-ton capacity. A large U.S. flag hung over the production room as employees worked on manufacturing products.

Kinzinger also listened to the Hutchinson family’s concerns about the future of American manufacturing.

“Manufacturing is what really jump-started our economy in the 1800s and 1900s. And manufacturing is going to be what continues to make us strong,” Kinzinger said.

Lee and Kathy Hutchinson are co-owners of Metalstamp. The business has 40 employees, with another eight or 10 workers employed on a temporary basis. A crop of young talent is important to keeping this industry strong.

It is difficult to find apprentice candidates, Hutchinson said.

“Twenty years down the road, we are going to have problems as we lose employees to retirement and not fill those positions,” he said.

After the tour, Kinzinger said: “If we can begin to introduce youth to what’s going on in manufacturing, and how great of a job it really is, I think you’re going to see a lot of people who are really fired up to the idea. Manufacturers will now be able to get the young American talent that they’ve always wanted.”

Also during Kinzinger’s visit, Metalstamp staff expressed a desire for a more competitive tax structure that allows business owners to invest more in their businesses and to provide wages that attract young people to the industry.

High-tech products
Metalstamp began in 1983, starting out in a small 3,500-square-foot shop in Shorewood. A couple of years later, the business expanded into a 10,000-square-foot facility. In 1994-95, Metalstamp expanded again into its current facility on Northern Illinois Drive, south of Route 6 in Channahon, Ill.

Metalstamp now primarily serves the automotive industry.

“Today we are 85 percent automotive,” Hutchinson said. “We are continually moving into other fields.

Hutchinson showed Kinzinger some of the products made at Metalstamp.

He pointed to a large strip on the conference room table. The end result will get overmolded and assembled into a Bosch six-feed transmission control.

Other metal products are sent to Mexico, where they will be overmolded and assembled into automotive alternators.

He pointed out a dust cover for the military’s M16 rifle.

Another component is used in a surgical robot, which provides control of surgical arms.

Kinzinger agreed with the need for a more competitive tax structure. He spoke about manufacturing and America’s entrepreneurial spirit.

He said of Metalstamp: “This began with an idea in somebody’s head. That idea now leads to 40 people who get a regular paycheck.”

Source:, © 2012 Sun-Times Media LLC


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