Made in Michiana: Eagle Mold and Tool
WAKARUSA, Ind. --Made in Michiana is back for the month of November. This week ABC 57 heads to Wakarusa to Eagle Mold and Tool. That's where two men are keeping the molding and toolmaking trades alive making tools and parts for major U.S. manufacturers.
Molding and tooling is a trade that serves as the backbone of American manufacturing. It allows some of the world's biggest companies to make the products and goods we rely on every single day.
“A lot of people don’t know about what we do. A lot of people don’t understand that toolmakers are the beginning of any manufacturing or production,” Eagle Mold and Tool Owner Thomas Fritschi said.
It's guys like Fritschi and Eagle Mold and Tool Founder Mark Bemiller, who take those companies' often complicated and complex orders, and design and create everything, including the kitchen sink.
Whatever the order calls for, they can make it happen.
“We’re basically kind of a one-stop shop for people who want plastic parts. Not everybody offers that. A lot of people are just tool shops. And a lot of people are just molders. But we do both here,” Bemiller said.
Fritschi designs and makes the tools, or molds, through a "CAD" program.
“I start with raw steel and create what he hangs in the press,” Fritschi said.
Then, Bemiller pushes those molds through his presses to produce the parts.
Being a "one-stop shop" isn't the only thing that makes Eagle Mold and Tool unique.
“Our trade is kind of very stagnant for the last 20 or 30 years. A lot of the product is being shipped to China and overseas for cheaper labor and we can’t really compete with their pricing,” Bemiller said.
Eagle Mold and Tool used to compete with 30-some other shops in our area alone.
“I lost a tool that I quoted for $14,000. I lost it overseas. They’re going to build it for $6,000,” Fritschi said.
Now, they say they are lucky to be one of a handful of shops left.
“The toolmakers age is becoming quite old. We’re going to be extinct so to speak,” Fritschi said.
And they say if those manufacturing jobs don't come back, their future looks bleak.
“It’ll just disappear. And no one will ever know what a mold maker ever was,” Bemiller said.
But they say they're hopeful what they do, will continue to be done by the next generation.
“In the future I think that we have to keep up with technology or continue to train people, or we’ll be out of the game eventually... It’s kind of a privilege to do the work and do what we do,” Fritschi said.
And they say they hope to keep the bloodline to American manufacturing alive, right here in Michiana.
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