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The Making of a Hero

The Making of a Hero

What does being a hero mean to you? Is it someone who puts their life on the line for their country? A person who helps the hungry and those down on their luck? Is it one who would give her last dollar to rescue an animal from a neglect situation? Or is it something else entirely?

At NIST MEP, we celebrate another type of hero. The small and medium-sized manufacturers who are an integral part of their communities and often work day and night to make, develop and innovate with little to no recognition. These are our Heroes of American Manufacturing.

Each year, we select two MEP Center manufacturing clients to tell their story as part of our Heroes of American Manufacturing video series. These heroes represent the breadth of U.S. manufacturing—from 3D metal printing of complex products and designing transformers for the electric power industry to developing a revolutionary motorcycle clutch technology. In two days or less, we conduct interviews, take B-roll footage and tour their facility. Our goal is to share the passion behind these companies and their dedicated workers, as well as their positive impacts—not only on manufacturing in their state, but in the U.S. overall. We also want to highlight their unique relationship with their local MEP Center and how that partnership helps them tackle their pressing manufacturing challenges.

My first experience in a manufacturing facility for one of the video shoots was one I well remember. We were greeted by the smiling faces of employees who were not only excited, but proud to tell the video crew more about “their” machine or show off how the addition of robotics onto the shop floor had increased production and streamlined workflows. With each visit, I learn something new about the manufacturing industry, and heard an overarching theme of creating jobs, improving local communities and changing the face of manufacturing.

And now, I’m honored to introduce you to our two most recent Heroes of American Manufacturing — Ace Metal Crafts Company and Faustson Tool.

Ace Metal Crafts Company, a client of IMEC (the MEP Center in Illinois and part of the MEP National NetworkTM) was launched in 1960 by 16 sheet metal workers who invented techniques that are now standards in sanitary stainless steel fabrication. Today, their in-depth fabrication knowledge resides in their processes and people, many with 30+ years of experience, working alongside the next generation of engineers, welders, finishers/polishers and fabricators to make Ace one of the best fabricators of stainless steel components. 

IMEC was first contacted by Ace Metal Crafts Company to assist with their employee training program. This valuable relationship has grown to include work with safety training, manuals, policies, a sustainability program and the selection of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Heroes of American Manufacturing: Ace Metal Crafts Company
Heroes of American Manufacturing: Ace Metal Crafts Company

Faustson Tool, a client of Manufacturer’s Edge (the MEP Center in Colorado and part of the MEP National NetworkTM), operates a 16,000-square-foot facility with more than 20 highly skilled employees and is owned and operated by Alicia Svaldi. Faustson Tool remains in the forefront of the manufacturing industry, continuing a tradition of pioneering the newest technology and pushing its limits. Faustson Tool takes on the most challenging applications only a few U.S. companies can handle, using state-of-the-art precision machining to do things no one else in the industry thinks can be done. Faustson’s reputation for innovation and excellence has earned the company prestigious clientele: Faustson Tool manufactured a key component in NASA’s Kepler space telescope, and has worked with Ball Aerospace to produce parts for the U.S. F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet. 

Manufacturer’s Edge has helped Faustson Tool improve product flow and production, be innovative and stay competitive in today’s manufacturing world. One of the most impressive results of this collaboration has been the development of the ADAPT Advanced Characterization Center, a 3D metal printing research facility.

Heroes of American Manufacturing: Faustson Tool
Heroes of American Manufacturing: Faustson Tool

If you’re a U.S. manufacturer that could benefit from assistance with the challenges you’re facing, contact your local MEP Center to learn more about the solutions offered in every state and Puerto Rico.


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The MEP National Network™ is a unique public-private partnership that delivers comprehensive, proven solutions to U.S. manufacturers, fueling growth and advancing U.S. manufacturing.

About the author

Nicole Ausherman

Nicole is a Digital Information Specialist in the NIST MEP Marketing and Communications group. She oversees the Manufacturing Innovation Blog, MEP's public and internal websites as well as all social media channels. Her experience in web development, graphic design and social media spans over 17 years and includes both the private and public sector.

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