Management career at The Tech Group:
Relocated to Phoenix area from Omaha in 1981 to join Karl Szanto as co-foreman of Tech Mold, Inc. Accepted the position of General Manager in 1985.
Accomplishments, either leading or individual undertaking:
- Re-instituted the official apprenticeship program for both Tech Mold and The Tech Group. Re-wrote the criteria for moldmaker apprentices for the State of Arizona. Tech Mold apprentices graduating from program were cross-trained in every area of specialty in the company. A high percentage of the original graduating classes are the leaders at Tech Mold today.
- Organized an empowered work force customized to suit the moldmaking trade based on the Deming philosophy followed by the writing of “Employee Empowerment”, a book describing the effort.
- Wrote manuscript entitled “The Tech Group Enters the 21st Century” outlining in great detail how the Super-Cell and the global tooling effort is to come into being and the exact purpose for taking on this monumental effort.
- Established a system of continuous improvement. A hybrid borne of the training received featuring weekly meetings for every department (inter-departmentally/globally as well) to assure technical advancement as well as synergy of people and working operations.
- Wrote “8 Customer Expectations and 25 Operating Principles” for The Tech Group. These have become the guidelines for the global tooling workforce to operate by. All departmental standards were written and adopted within the criteria set by the Operating Principles.
- Author of the hardcover book “What Is A Mold?”, now in its 3rd printing with 7,500 copies in print. It is on the curriculum at The University of Massachusetts/Lowell-Plastic Engineering and at Singapore Polytechnics. It has been offered through Barnes and Noble book stores, SPI, EDM Today, Injection Molding Magazine’s IMM book club, and Gesswein.
- Taught “What is a Mold?” courses at Gateway Community College-Phoenix and Singapore Polytechnics-Singapore.
- Designed and began work on a process patent (US patent application no. 20030055525 – March 20, 2003) for an automated, palletized, robotically driven, 24-7, insert manufacturing system called the “super cell” designed to utilize unmanned machining hours to reduce both cost and lead times for mold tooling. TTG is $5MM invested in the $10MM endeavor as of this writing. Productivity ratios reached in the automated environment were well over $200K per person annually. News releases were done in January 2002 in both Injection Molding Magazine and Plastics News. The November 2003 issue of Modern Machine Shop featured it as the cover story. The editorial that issue called it “Star Wars” technology.
- Named as inventor or co-inventor on 2 additional mechanical device patents related to moldmaking through TTG. US – 6,481,996 B1- November 19, 2002 and US – 6,592,797 B2 – July 15, 2003.
- Designed and implemented an Engineering driven managing system to drive the super cell, allowing for re-training of moldmakers to become mold designers and machine programmers as well as planners/schedulers. Moldmakers would then drive the system through engineering with the valuable skills and knowledge they have amassed as opposed to manning the machines within it.
- Guest speaker at National functions speaking on the subjects of empowerment, automation, global tooling, and the super cell.
- 1966-1967 – Reliable Products – first employee – High School Co-op program. Learning moldmaking skills
- 1967-1973 – Reliable Products- Apprenticeship – promoted to shop foreman – 1970
- 1973-1975 – Central States Tool and Die – hired to bring moldmaking ability to the organization until company dissolved
- 1975-1976 – Kempkes Tool and Engraving – foreman – moldmaking
- 1976-1977 – Distefano Tool and Die – moldmaker – moved to be closer to new business being constructed.
- 1977-1981- Self-employed- Graham’s Automotive Service – designed-contracted construction - managed business– Father/Brother non-financial partners. Continued to design molds for local moldbuilding companies while quoting/troubleshooting for automotive service business
- 1981-1997 – Recruited by Bill Kushmaul, President of Tech Mold, Inc. to move to Arizona and ultimately become General Manager of Tech Mold. 1997-1998 – Retired from plastics to assist wife, Robin in expansion effort of Petal Pushers/D’Javaheads, a flowershop/coffeehouse venture in Chandler, Az.
- 1998-2004 – Recruited by Steve Uhlmann to build super cell concept and Global tooling effort with Omni-Mold, Singapore at Tech Group C/EC division in Scottsdale, Az.
- 2004-Dissolved 2012 – Founder and President of Len Graham Consulting – helping mold shops convert to mold manufacturing in order to better compete in today’s market. Consultant for better mold design and troubleshooting low-performing mold programs
- 2006-2008 – Consulted as Director of Tooling Engineering - Omega Plastics – Clinton Township, MI – orchestrated automated mold manufacturing in a prototype/low cavitation environment with the team there. Sponsored in part by a grant from the State of Michigan administered through the University of Michigan
- 2008 - September-2009 – Consulted for RJW Consulting in Riverside, CA. to help assemble a mold shop from assets of GB Mold, Riverside – owned by RJW Consulting - in a new Riverside location. Laid out new shop and coordinated installation of equipment. Began work on mold tooling there. Unit was ultimately sold by RJW Consulting.
- September-2009 – November-2011 – Returned to home base city Omaha, NE. to work with Majors Plastics. Began work in Contract Mfg. building to write procedures for new set-up maintenance person. Also, improved on existing fixturing for ease of use. Set up newly acquired unit for automated printing, assembling and packaging of safety glasses. Transferred to mold maintenance building to aid in mold maintenance procedures and improving on mold function. Set up work station and worked out of Program Management area there to write procedures for outside mold builders to adhere to as to quality features required in Majors Plastics mold tooling.
- November-2011 - June-2014 – Accepted Business Unit Leader position with Rexam Mold Mfg. to bring automated mold manufacturing to Buffalo Grove. Enhanced output per person from $153K to over $200K. Installed Mega-Cell technology of my creation – Cell 1 of 5 planned is in place. Endeavor was published in Modern Machine Shop, EDM Today, Cutting Tool Engineering and featured on the front cover of the August 2013 Edition of Moldmaking Technology Magazine all that same year.
- June-2014 – November-2014 – Rexam C&C Division sold to Berry Plastics in June, 2014. My unit was acquired with it. Worked to assimilate my unit with existing Berry Plastics tooling division in Evansville, Indiana. The 2 separate locations would remain so but performing different work functions. Buffalo Grove would continue to build outside mold tooling for other than Berry customers as well as Berry mold tooling for the many molding divisions of Berry Plastics.
- November-2014 – Berry Plastics sold the mold manufactring unit to Flextronics' MedPak Division effective November 1, 2014. Len was not asked to join that transition.
- November-2014 – February-2016 – Director of Tooling/Engineering for Matrix IV in Woodstock, IL. Helped young female owner, Patricia Miller, with what she termed a start-up operation of her Grandfather's 40 year old company that she had purchased.
- September-2016 – Present – Director Tooling & Automation Engineering for RD Industries in Omaha, NE. Re-joining Rod Laible, President CEO after 50 years. www.rdindustries.com – email – firstname.lastname@example.org