PMPA Welcomes Michael Reader as its New President
On October 4, 2018, Michael Reader of Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, was formally elected as PMPA’s next president.
On October 4, 2018, Michael Reader of Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, was formally elected as PMPA’s next president. The election was held at the organization’s board of directors meeting at PMPA’s 85th Annual Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes hotel in Orlando, Florida.
While Mr. Reader took a great interest in metals, drafting and automotive classes in high school, his path toward becoming a leader in the precision machining industry was far from linear. Per the recommendation of his guidance counselors, Mr. Reader attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics. After graduating college in 1986, he moved to Chicago and worked in operations for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He eventually took a job in London as a global operations manager at the commodity futures clearing division of Bank of America. Mr. Reader enjoyed the long hours that came with overseeing the U.S., European and Asian markets for the company, but in 1995, he received the news that his mother was ill and he decided it was best to relocate his family to Wisconsin to help his father manage his latest venture: a machine shop.
After spending much of his career working in the resort industry, Mr. Reader’s father purchased a machine shop in 1988 that would become Precision Plus Inc. Despite not having a background in precision machining, Mr. Reader learned quickly. After only seeing the shop once, prior to working with his father in 1995, he eventually became president of the manufacturer of precision machined metal components using Swiss-type screw machines for the industrial, pneumatic, hydraulic, electrical and many other industries.
“I learned that a lot of the things they do in this business were the things I enjoyed doing as a kid and in high school, but the guidance counselors just couldn’t connect the dots,” Mr. Reader says. “I don’t think our industry has cultivated a positive image to attract the best and brightest talent available. I discovered that we need to do a better job as an industry at marketing ourselves.”
Although he had long been aware of the misconceptions of the manufacturing industry, Mr. Reader was particularly inspired to take action after seeing a 2012 episode of 60 Minutes that discussed the skills gap and the lack of training programs manufacturers provide to their employees. Mr. Reader realized he needed to take matters into his own hands and partner with the education community by hiring an educator to build a curriculum to train and grow his employees at Precision Plus.
“This not only worked out for our incumbent and internal workers but also for our efforts in reaching out to the high schools, technical colleges and four-year universities in our area,” Mr. Reader says. “We wanted to raise awareness of these manufacturing careers and the good things that come with them.”
Mr. Reader has been an active PMPA member since 1995 and has long partnered with the organization to carry out his goals of changing the nation’s perception of manufacturing and promoting the importance of technical training. One of his biggest endeavors was collaborating with PMPA to create a promotional video titled, “Change Your Game,” which showcased the exciting careers that exist today in manufacturing and dispelled many of the myths that still exist, regarding cleanliness, safety and other outdated stereotypes. The video is still shown to shops and schools all across the country. In 2015, Mr. Reader partnered with the local Technical College, Gateway, and its president, Dr. Bryan Albrecht, to establish the Reader Precision Machining and Manufacturing Center in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Not only was this done with his own money, but he was able to enlist the support of other industry partners such as Robert E. Morris (Tsugami), Hannah Fishman of PartMaker and Zeiss Metrology Systems. Through this partnership, and together with the local high school (Elkhorn), they are making a difference in the community and for the students. The foundation and manufacturing center allows students to learn on state-of-the-art equipment from highly trained faculty with industry mentors from Precision Plus. Students are also given the opportunity to earn college credit and workplace skills through paid internships and youth apprenticeship opportunities.
“If we want to have success in attracting the next generation, we have to provide a work climate that is very attractive,” Mr. Reader says. “We need to win over the hearts and minds of these people, particularly the students, because most educators have a distorted perception of what manufacturing is today. We’ve worked so hard to change that perception because there are very rewarding careers in manufacturing.”
For PMPA, Mr. Reader has served on the board of directors for the PMPA Education Foundation, as well as a number of committees including the organization’s political action committee: while serving, he educated several prominent congressmen, including former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, on how the recent tax reform had positively impacted Precision Plus and other shops in the U.S. He’s also been a strong advocate for inclusion and diversity within the industry and has served on PMPA’s NextGen and Women of PMPA boards.
“As president, I only hope to keep improving the PMPA and continuing on the path of providing leading information, technology, advocacy and resources for our members,” Mr. Reader says. “I’m honored to have the privilege to lead this organization, and I am grateful to have a great group of people behind me.”