Tooling for Tomorrow Hits the $500,000 Mark

What does this organization actually do and how can you be a part of it to help tool up the moldmaking industry?

What better month than October — Manufacturing Month — to shed some light on an initiative to help develop the current and future moldmaking workforce? Tooling for Tomorrow is an initiative established by Progressive Components in 2002 to address the challenges of global competition that have impacted moldmaking over the past 20 years, and recently surpassed the $500,000 mark in donations. 

The program’s process is simple. Throughout the year, Progressive Components’ Sales team asks customers what vocational schools are helpful to them. Then, it adds each school and relevant program leaders to a database to which a letter is sent at the start of each school year inquiring about current educational needs such as perishable tooling (drills and cutters that wear out) and mold components that are used in the classroom. The Progressive team then distributes dollars and components as able.

Sara Porter has been managing Tooling for Tomorrow for over three years. She coordinates the distribution of funds and materials and maintains a running tally. Recently, she realized that the total was reaching a milestone point — a lifetime sum of $499,200. “Our first thought was … who will be the recipient that puts us over the half-million-dollar mark? That’s an easy one,” Porter says.

Progressive chose the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA) based out of the Chicago area to receive $1,000, which put Tooling for Tomorrow over the top.

“We chose TMA because we have decades of history with this group,” Progressive Components President Glenn Starkey says, “Progressive has accessed plenty of TMA courses over the years. And, some of us in sales and engineering are regulars at teaching a class for both the mold building and mold design classes.”

In addition, Progressive sponsors many of the industry’s important accolades, such as the American Mold Builder Association’s ‘Mold Builder of the Year’ and ‘Tooling Trailblazer of the Year’, the Mold Technologies Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers ‘Mold Designer of the Year’ and MoldMaking Technology’s ‘Leadtime Leader of the Year’ Awards. For each, the recipient chooses the vocational-technical program that is near and dear to their hearts and Progressive issues a check – ranging from $500 to $5,000 each.

Starkey emphasizes that Tooling For Tomorrow’s work is far from complete. “We are continuing to learn about programs and distribute funds and components for resources to support our industry at home,” Starkey says. “Our hopes and dreams for Tooling For Tomorrow now are to reach the million-dollar mark!”

Click HERE for more info on Progressive's Tooling For Tomorrow program.