Longevity in any business can be challenging. In the manufacturing world, the ability to survive—and thrive—over the long term is especially noteworthy. Manufacturing jobs have been declining since 1979 when the U.S. reached an all-time high of 19.6 million jobs. By 2019, this number was down to 12.8 million, a 35% decrease.[i] Environmental factors, automation, and companies moving jobs overseas have all contributed to this downturn.
We're proud to say that at our Connecticut-based precision metal manufacturing facility, we have certainly beaten the odds. Celebrating 110 years of continuous operation, the company has achieved a significant milestone. No small feat considering the many obstacles we’ve encountered over the decades—from recessions to world wars to changing technologies.
A Company on the Move
The company was established in 1912 when Alfred H. Motzer and Harold C. Hobson nailed a sign on the side of a barn in Meriden, CT and opened shop. Expert craftsmen, they soon earned a reputation for innovation, precision, and high-quality work. Over the years, the company’s expertise has grown considerably, as innovative new materials and technologies, capabilities, and manufacturing processes were added to our portfolio.
In the 1950s, A.E. Motzer, who succeeded his father in ownership, implemented a “Pursuit of Excellence Strategy” which has guided the company to this day. Metal stamping was introduced in the late 1960s, and the company’s knack for solving complex challenges gained attention, along with and Hobson & Motzer winning many design awards.
One of the most pivotal moments in the company’s history was the progression to wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) in the 1980s. A.E. Motzer adopted this technology very early on and the company became an expert in its use, ahead of many others. This was a huge step forward that substantially changed the complexion of the company. “That spirit of innovation and advancing technology has been a constant at Hobson & Motzer since 1912,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Anthony Bracale. “It meant Hobson & Motzer was always well positioned and ideally suited to take on bigger and more complex projects, especially within the medical device sector.”
Hobson & Motzer’s mastery of components used in surgical stapling technology has fueled enormous growth for the company. While manufacturing employment dropped precipitously in the U.S. between 1979 and the present day, Hobson & Motzer’s workforce increased twentyfold during this same period!
A Dedicated Workforce
Today, the company has just under 400 team members, a far cry from our beginnings as a two-man shop. Longevity comes not only from the Hobson & Motzer’s ability to innovate and respond to changing environmental factors and market demands, but the dedication of the people behind our products.
Tool Room Supervisor Chuck Cardillo, who has been with us nearly 40 years, says the company’s success is due, in large part, to the “dedication of our people and their passion for the products we make.”
President Bruce Dworak also cites a passion for excellence as a driving factor. “We are always striving to improve. We are not happy with the status quo and are always looking to push the envelope, whether it’s to be more productive or provide an even higher level of service to our customers. Even if we have what others may consider a good year, we are always on the move to do more.”
Bracale agrees. “Reaching the 110-year milestone is unique in and of itself, but throughout our history, we have also had very low turnover, which leads to continuity of process, and that set us apart. Our team members—many of whom have been with us 25 years or more—know our products from beginning to end. Their longevity and knowledge are invaluable.”
The depth of knowledge and experience at Hobson & Motzer may be attributed to the enduring relationships Hobson & Motzer has built with area technical schools and trade associations. Fifty-one of the company’s team members graduated from Connecticut vocational and technical schools.
Dworak and Cardillo—graduates of Vinal Tech and H. C. Wilcox machine tool programs, respectively—say these connections ensure a well-trained pool of tool and die makers. “We typically add one or two new apprentices every year. Over the years, this results in having a deep bench of 20-30 people of varying experience levels who are available to teach the next generation,” says Dworak.
Dworak and Cardillo stay active in trade associations as well. Cardillo is on the board of the Technical Trade Advisory Council. Dworak is president of CTMA, the local chapter of the National Tooling Machine Association (NTMA). Four CTMA presidents have come from Hobson & Motzer, which was a founding member of the organization back in 1943.
Cardillo says the company’s collaborative approach makes team members feel valued and appreciated, which in turn, results in long-term dedication and loyalty. The company implemented an idea board system in 2015. In weekly meetings, department employees share ideas on improving their department; whether related to safety, quality, or process improvements, Hobson & Motzer team members always have a voice.
“Employees are free to say what they want to say, and then—more importantly—see it actually getting done,” says Cardillo. “People who have joined Hobson & Motzer after working at other companies are surprised at how much their opinions are valued—over 1,500 employee suggestions are implemented each year.”
Not on the Curve, Ahead of the Curve!
A passion for excellence, innovative spirit, attention to detail, and a dedicated workforce have all contributed to Hobson & Motzer’s steady growth over the years. But ultimately, it is the company’s ability to look to the future, to stay ahead of the curve, that will nurture and guide our success.
“Our focus is on working with customers on next-generation solutions. As medical devices advance, they tend to get smaller, more sophisticated, and their components more precise, demanding more from the materials they are made from. This is our lane; it’s why we exist. We’ve succeeded for 110 years preparing for the next innovation in a market we are ideally suited to serve—med device. And at the end of the day, our efforts will improve the lives of surgeons and patients alike; there is great satisfaction in that,” says Bracale.
Dworak likens the company’s future success to a flywheel. “You keep it spinning—perpetuating it with each new technology, product, and idea—each time adding a small amount of energy into the system. You couldn’t do all these things at once, from scratch. The reason we are where we are today is that we have built upon our successes and laid the foundation for another century of innovation and growth.”
[i] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics