The Mitchel Brothers Global Players and Gold Mic Award Winners
The Mitchel brothers have seen a lot of changes in their 40-plus years in the precision-machined products industry. Things they mentioned included parts makers moving up the value chain to provide assembly and other value-added services, technology advances that make what used to take days now take only an hour or even minutes, and fundamental changes in the market and competition.
The Mitchels have kept a keen eye on those changes as they position their business to meet the challenges they’re anticipating during the next 5 years. They’ve made changes to their management styles, attempted to keep pace with technology and are looking at their competition and their markets to ensure The Mitchel Group doesn’t get left behind in the dust.
In fact, the Mitchels are positioning the company to be a competitive global player, they say. Whether that means purchasing or selling abroad, establishing joint ventures with foreign competitors or setting up shop overseas, they intend for The Mitchel Group to survive and to prosper.
Some 3 years ago, the brothers purchased facilities in their own Indianapolis backyard, as well as in Tennessee, to expand the product offerings of the business their father founded in 1933. Today, The Mitchel Group is comprised of the original business, Mitchel & Scott Machine Company, as well as Precision Machine Company in East Indianapolis and Tennessee Screw Machine Company in McMinnville, Tennessee. Altogether, the companies employ about 350 people.
Tom Mitchel, who serves as the company’s chairman, says that “because of what we are seeing happening with the global economy, such as our customers sourcing from the Pacific rim and India, The Mitchel Group is putting measures in place to be a part of that game too. Most likely, that will include sourcing overseas to support our customers, or as opportunities allow, furnishing products to foreign companies.”
Tom added that Asia — China in particular — and Mexico are areas “that have to be a part of the overall plan” when talking about both suppliers and customers of The Mitchel Group. “It’s going to be a changing and challenging time over the next few years,” he says.
Indeed, change is something the brothers have seen over the course of their careers.
Technology Drives Change
Dave Mitchel, the company’s vice president of engineering, says he believes technology has been the overriding driver of change within the industry during his career, especially in recent years.
“There’s been a pretty dynamic change over the last 15 to 18 years in our business,” he says.
Tom Mitchel agrees, noting the “velocity of business” has increased dramatically during that time. “With the advent of faxes, computer usage and the Internet—all of them combined have increased the speed of business so much that it boggles the mind.”
Steve Mitchel, however, has a slightly different take on the major change that has taken place in his 47-year career. “The biggest change, be it good or bad, is management styles,” says Steve, the company’s vice president and secretary. He notes a shift has occurred in the way managers and employees interact with each other. It’s no longer “do as I say” from a manager’s point-of-view.
“It’s given people some control over their destiny. They’re working with you, not for you,” Steve says, adding, “Of course, you still have some people who won’t go along with it, but most seem to like the new participative style.”
Meanwhile, the Mitchels say that being a member of PMPA has given them advantages they couldn’t get if their company wasn’t involved with the organization. Whether it was working in cooperation with the PMPA on ergonomics issues, noise-safety matters or taxation regulations, the organization has provided lots of support and data to help the brothers run their company.
“Throw A Problem Out On The Listserve—Get Solutions”
One of the biggest advantages, however, has been PMPA’s Listserve, the online support system where members help each other solve their technical and production problems, says Dave Mitchel.
“That’s the one thing about our association: Even though we’re competitors, everybody tries to help each other,” Dave Mitchel says. “You can throw a problem out there (on the Listserve) and within 3 hours or less, you’ll have all kinds of solutions.”
Dave says his company has used the Listserve for “quite a few different problems,” from tooling applications to where to source particular parts or products.
Dave Receives Family’s Third Gold Mic Award
Dave Mitchel, the Mitchel Group’s vice president of engineering, is the recipient of this year’s Gold Micrometer Award, given by the Precision Machined Products Association to member company executives who have completed 40 years of career service in the industry. Dave received his Gold Micrometer Award at PMPA’s Annual Meeting this fall, rounding out the Mitchel family winners, with both Steve and Tom being honored in prior years.
“Time flies by so fast. Forty years crept up on me before I knew it,” Dave says. “It feels real good to be recognized by your peers in the industry.”
Dave says no one memorable moment sticks out in his mind over his career—each day was special in its own way. “For 40-plus years I’ve been with this company, and every day is a memorable one to me. I thoroughly enjoy my work. There’s not a day that I get out of bed and say, ‘I wish I could go fishing today.’”
While the brothers have all earned the Gold Micrometer, there are others in the Mitchel family who also could be in line for the prestigious PMPA award someday. There are six “G-3,” or third-generation Mitchels working at the company, Tom says. Among them, the brothers have two daughters and four sons in The Mitchel Group. None, though, currently has a corner office.
“They’re starting out just like we started out. We didn’t start out at the top of the organization, and they’re getting the same treatment,” Tom says. “They’re getting their hands dirty.”