I was showing molded parts to a customer from our display case and a particular project brought back many memories. This month, we proudly celebrate our 39th business anniversary. We started Toth Mold/Die Inc. in 1982 but we actually have 45 years in the injection molding trade. Back in 1976 my father, two brothers and myself ran an injection molding/injection mold building company for a silent owner for five years. My brothers and I had very little experience in the trade. Two of us just graduated high school when the opportunity came about, and we immediately began working.
My twin brother and I did start an apprenticeship program but due to time constraints of having to go to class instead of being at the shop working, my father told us that we should just quit. His plan was to eventually have our own injection molding family business. He said we would never have to work for anyone and would not need to have our journeyman papers. How right he was!
Our father had a colossal undertaking trying to teach his three sons how to design and build molds, run production parts, and manage a business. We worked 12 hours a day Monday through Friday as well as eight hours on Saturday. This schedule was a huge burden for us siblings. Two of us just graduated high school and were not expecting this. Our older brother did not care for the grueling schedule either. I actually tried to quit about five times within the first year but always came back.
First Injection Mold Build Job
The first injection mold build job we had was this die cast part for a military jeep. It was pretty complicated. As I think back to those days, I remember the feeling that it was basically the worst time of my life. I got yelled at all the time and made numerous mistakes. On the upside though, I learned the ins and outs of this trade pretty quickly.
This particular die cast part really took a toll on my brothers and I because it was so difficult to understand the function of an injection mold. My dad was extremely tough. He had very little patience with trying to teach us because we made a huge number of mistakes. There was an exuberant amount of daily yelling go on.
While building this mold, our father had to go out of town for a few days. He decided to leave the three of us alone in the shop to work on our own, which was not the best idea. We made some pretty big mistakes building the molds for these parts. My older brother Steve Jr. almost cut his fingers off on a radial drill press. He was holding a vice with one hand while trying to drill a 1 ½” diameter hole in a piece of steel. Naturally, you do not do that but since we were beginners, we did not know any better. We did have to make a trip to the emergency room, and he got quite a few stitches.
In addition, I was cutting ejector pins with a cutoff wheel on a surface grinder and it exploded sending a piece of the cutoff wheel past my brother Tom’s head and stuck into the wall. While that was happening, another piece went straight up and broke a fluorescent light above me and I was showered with glass. My father was very upset when he got back and said it will be a very LONG time before he leaves us alone again. On a positive note, we finally did end up completing the molds and then we were on our way.
The Here and Now
Fast forward 45 years and my twin brother Tom and I are still going strong in the trade. We make a great team. We lost our father and older brother Steve Jr. along the way but chose to keep the family business together. I feel very blessed to have been able to work side by side with my family for all these years. That is why I always say, you should try and find an occupation that you really “like” to do because it is such a big part of your life.