Select was established in 1970 and has grown in the past 40 years to be a 40 million dollar company employing 200 associates in its 4 Dayton plants. Structured as a contract manufacturer, Select's capabilities include the design and production of both progressive complete and transfer metal stamping dies and the assemblies and tooling for over 52 automotive and non-automotive customers. Select is ISO9001/QS-9000 certified and is committed to providing world-class products to its customers through 100% on-time delivery, customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. All of this success did not happen over night, so we asked Bob Whited, founder/CEO, to tell us.
The Story Behind Select Industries Corp...
Bob Whited, born and raised in the City of Dayton, describes the history of Select Tool and Die Corp., which was founded some (40) years ago. The business was started in a 2,500 square foot basement located under a bar and beauty shop on the corner of Patterson Road and Woodman Drive.
Although to understand a little more about Select Industries we should start about ten years earlier, in 1960. This was the year that I was fortunate enough to land a job at the International Tool Company. Out of high school, not college material, married early, and always wanting to be a tool and die maker like my father would be proud of (he was a master tool and die maker), this opportunity was the best thing that could have happened to me. ITCO was well respected in our industry and had a great reputation for training. After a short period of time, doing everything nobody else wanted to do, I was accepted into their tool and die apprenticeship program. This training program was invaluable, and shortly thereafter I was offered two years of hands on training in their tool design and engineering department. A few years later, I was asked to relocate to one of their affiliate companies in Gadsden, Alabama. A complete book could be written on this part of my life, which more than anything helped me to prepare for my future with Select.
OK, back to the basement...
In 1970, things were going very well and by November of 1972, Select had outgrown this site. In our search for a larger site, we found a 10,000 square foot area in the old naval reserve building at 1222 East Third Street; Dayton, Ohio. At the time, this building was owned by the very known Mayor Dave Hall and family. Mayor Hall had agreed (with a memo and handshake) to lease us this space with the option to purchase after we got our feet on the ground. After his untimely death several years later, we received a call from his family that they had found the Mayors handwritten note and advised us they would uphold his commitments if we wished. Needless to say, we purchased the property, which allowed us to continue our growth and expansion.
Grow we did, and by 1987 we were going strong with over (100) associates. All of these great people worked hard to establish Select Industries while servicing many of our large and small customers in and around the tri-state area. Everything was going extremely well at Select Industries until the fall of 1987. On October 17, 1987, the summer was over and an early winter was settling into the Miami Valley. My best guess is that evening when we started changing over the heating systems something mechanically went wrong and started what turned out to be a devastating fire. During that fire all was lost, all but our spirit and desire. The next morning, to our surprise, in the smoking rubble we were greeted by our city leaders, our partners at Bank One, and owners of most of the tool and die shops in the area. Our city stepped up and offered to help find a roof for over our head, Bank One executives talked to our people (from the bed of a pickup truck in our parking lot) and assured them they would support us financially, and the tool and die owners (our competitors) offered to help us save our customers by helping us rebuild our work in progress. After a few hectic weeks and with much help from the City of Dayton we located a facility in North Dayton on Heid Avenue. This launched the massive task for rebuilding (18) years of hard work. Along with rebuilding our plant, we started our expansion into stamping and finished assemblies. Our tooling experience proved invaluable in this expansion and growth came rapidly. Over the next (13) years from 1987 through 2000, Select Industries exceeded employment levels of (400) within our city and many jobs outside the city.
Now as Select Industries starts into the 21st Century, we find ourselves, along with most other suppliers in our industry facing the next challenge, "price pressures". Not only from competition on the home front but also from across the ocean. To face this latest challenge we revisited our business plan and decided we must meet this challenge head on. Our strategy as we move forward is to form stronger affiliate company relationships, and at the same time strengthen and expand our technology, with a strong focus on engineering, designing and building of tooling, and related machinery and equipment.
For us to launch these robust plans our analysis showed we must have the proper facility in the proper location. This is where the City of Dayton and the Tool Valley Network came into our plans. Working with the City of Dayton Economic Development Team has given us the opportunity to relocate two of our plants from outside the city to the Tool Town industrial park at Route 4 and Webster Street. This added approximately (100) jobs for Select Industries and our affiliate companies and allows us to continue to set and achieve company goals, meet customer business needs while giving back to our industry and our city.