Fullerton Tool – Patrick Curry – John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award

During the last decade, numerous manufacturers struggled to keep their businesses afloat. As with any difficult time, certain individuals separated themselves from the rest and led a manufacturing resurgence that has seen the industry increase jobs by 22 percent since 2009.

Patrick Curry, president of Saginaw-based Fullerton Tool, was one such individual. His ability to develop partnerships across diverse businesses and economic sectors led to the development of many significant talent initiatives.

“Manufacturing is the pulse of America,” said Curry. “Manufacturing drives the country and it drives Michigan communities. Strong manufacturing keeps jobs here and revitalizes the areas that have been hurt.”

The City of Saginaw is one of many areas in the state still recovering from the struggles of the past decade. Curry’s dedication to the community and surrounding areas has been essential to the city’s continued turnaround. As a leader, Curry has received the 2013 Michigan’s Economic Bright Spot Award and the Saginaw Future Award for his contributions to Saginaw’s economy.

Described by his peers as an innovator, this third-generation manufacturer continues to market manufacturing as an exciting, high-tech industry. His efforts are already beginning to change the minds of young people who never considered the opportunities available to them in manufacturing.

“Manufacturers are not, generally, good marketers,” said Curry. “We’re competing on a global scale. That’s exciting for us and it should be exciting for young people. It comes down to answering ‘how do you make manu-facturing cool?’ For manufacturers that shouldn’t be hard. We do incredible things each day.”

Under his leadership, the Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers Association (GLBMA) and other stakeholders came together to create the Accelerated CNC Machinists Program at Delta College and the Saginaw Career Complex. These organizations help current and future manufacturers develop the skills necessary to enter the workforce. Local students regularly visit Fullerton Tool for tours and job shadowing opportunities.

“When students see the parts we make — how it connects to final products that they see every day — that interests them,” said Curry. “The technology they can use in manufacturing is exciting. Today’s students can be part of developing tomorrow’s next great product. The challenge comes from getting them in the door.”

With 155 employees and a growing reputation, Fullerton Tool is experiencing strong momentum. Curry understands, however, that success can only continue if companies are positioned for the long-term. Fundamental to long-term success is manufacturing’s ability to diversify and protect itself from any one industry being hurt by difficult times. Fullerton Tool has achieved this by ensuring that even their number one customer accounts for only 3 percent of their overall sales.

“If the last decade showed us anything, it’s that you never know what obstacles lay ahead,” said Curry. “Fullerton Tool and the City of Saginaw are enjoying more and more good days every year. We’re expanding and growing. New jobs are being created and new investment opportunities exist. That’s due to diversification and smart planning.”

Curry continues to be an advocate for manufacturing and understands that, while there are no quick fixes to the industry’s top challenges, each manufacturer must make their voice heard.

“Manufacturers have to work to solve manufacturing’s issues,” said Curry. “If we don’t involve ourselves, nobody else will rise up to help. We must lead the process.”

This article appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of MiMfg Magazine.