Referring to the "K-12 Enterprise," expert Doug Eadie discusses Leyden District 212's success under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak, "by adopting certain traits of successful for-profit organizations, such as engaging in systematic product innovation, paying close attention to customers, and expanding community ownership of the district."
Says Eadie, "A1 Tool and other Leyden business partners are a perfect example of what we might call indirect customers of the K-12 Enterprise. A1 doesn’t – like a direct customers would – cut a check directly to Leyden to pay for the preeminent product Leyden supplies: well-trained, highly motivated, work-ready graduates to fill A1 jobs (almost a fifth of A1’s current workforce). But you can be sure that A1 and other Leyden business partners pay in less direct, but highly important ways."The Win-Win
A1 Tool and the other Leyden business partners provide expert input for machinery and tooling, for example, to keep the program on the cutting edge. Leyden manages its customer relations by staying in close contact with its partners in monthly meetings, visiting manufacturing facilities that employ Leyden graduates, and public recognition for the partner/customers for their contributions.
Learn more about the partnership by reading the full article and listening to the podcast while viewing photos. Open and read the article , Board Savvy Superintendent, July 10, 2017)
A1 Tool was recently featured in a Chicago Tribune story about the need for skilled workers in Chicago’s manufacturing sector. (, Chicago Tribune, December 17, 2016)A1 Tool A Leader in Attracting and Retaining Skilled Craftsmen
In the Tribune article, A1 stands out as a leader in attracting and retaining skilled workers. “A1…built a spacious kitchen and gym to help retain talent and created a process map with detailed steps and goals that not only improves efficiency but shows people how to move up the career ladder, from sweeping floors to running grinders to fitting molds.”
According to A1 owner and president Geoff Luther, "What I've recognized is that most companies are failing at providing a path for success.” But not at A1. Even entry-level jobs start at about $12 to $13 an hour, Luther said, and those who move up to become mold-makers can earn more than $30 an hour.A Case in Point
Gregory Zaucha, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer, started as a summer intern when he was 16. He was sweeping floors and cleaning machines for $8 an hour ("character building”). Zaucha stayed on at the plant through community college and a bachelor's program at University of Illinois at Chicago, where he recently earned his mechanical engineering degree.
Even though Zaucha said he initially dreamed of becoming a police officer, his factory colleagues persuaded him that manufacturing would be a better route. Zaucha said he’s glad he got his hands dirty on the floor, because "it makes me a better designer; I understand how things actually work."
Open and read the articleA-1 Tool Owner and President Receives Mold Maker of the Year Award
Geoff Luther, owner and president of A-1 Tool, was the recent recipient of the prestigious Mold Maker of the Year Award, presented by the Mold Technologies Division.
The award is well deserved, according to Senior Editor Cynthia Kustush, because Luther is “highly respected in the mold making community as the leader of one of the largest and most technologically advanced mold shops in the Midwest.”Active in Education
In addition to his extensive skills and expertise in mold making, Luther is active on the (AMBA) Chicago Education Committee, charged with promoting careers in mold manufacturing to high school students and educators.
Luther also devotes countless hours of his free time helping local high schools with their machining programs. And he serves on a community advisory committee with East and West Lyndon high schools, helping to develop a first-class metalworking curriculum, and providing internships and full-time apprenticeships at A-1 Tool. Because of Luther’s efforts, hundreds of area students are exposed to advanced manufacturing career opportunities each year.
Luther was nominated by Greg Osborn from , who serves as Education Committee Chair for the SPE Mold Technologies Division. According to Osborn, not only does Luther lead an impressive mold making operation, but he “has demonstrated his commitment to his employees’ well-being, professionally and personally, by updating his company with new, state-of-the-art machinery; providing clean, organized and well-lit work areas, spacious break rooms and kitchens, a fully-equipped gym and even a sauna.”
Kustush said she serves with both Luther and Osborn on the Education Committee of the AMBA Chicago Chapter. “I can say that there is no lack of enthusiasm or energy in the way Geoff gives of his time and experience to help us reach out to other school districts, their instructors, advisors and students,” she said.
Francine Petrucci, AMBA Chicago president and chair of its education committee, echoed those sentiments. “Geoff has inspired us all by sharing his experience with building solid relationships at the Leyden high schools,” she said. “His strategies for recruiting apprentices are so valuable; they have provided our committee with a strong foundation for launching similar efforts on a wider scale across northern Illinois.”
Luther was presented with a plaque and a scholarship check for $500, which he will donate to Leyden Township’s metalworking program.Share Our Passion
Our people are our most important resource. Working with local schools, we provide tours, internships, participate on the business advisory board, and even contribute to the school's major equipment purchases. The result is a great talent pool, not only for the benefit of A1 Tool Corp, but many individuals and the entire surrounding communities.
Meet the owner and a number of young recruits building a solid career in injection mold manufacturing. Come share our passion.Masters of the Details
The August 2015 issue of had a feature article about A-1 Tool revealing several of our core values.
Download the article...
Workforce Development Video
A-1 Tool Corporation places a high value on workforce development. Working with the East Leyden High School and others, we provide tours, internships, participate on the business advisory board, and even contribute to major equipment purchases. The result is a great talent pool, not only for the benefit of A-1 Tool Corp, but many individuals and the entire surrounding communities.
The video below was created for the TMA Education Committee to highlight its participation over many years' support of the East Leyden High School Technical Education Department. A-1 Tool is a proud participant through its membership in the TMA and participation with East Leyden High School. This program demonstrates the power of industry involvement in education, as we have many employees today who began their careers at East Leyden High School.
Doing the Math on Your MoldMaker's Value
The December 2010 issue of featured this important article about the great value a quality injection mold from A-1 Tool Corp can provide.
Download the article...
"Coming together is a beginning;
keeping together is progress;
working together is success."
– Henry Ford
A1 Tool Corporation
1425 Armitage Avenue
Melrose Park, IL 60160
phone (708) 345-5000
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