This year the committee unanimously selected Jim Hommer Sr. as the recipient of the Winzeler Award at the annual TMA (Technology and Manufacturing Association) meeting on March 5th. Jim was a unanimoous choice by the committee, which is challenged every year with identifying and tracking TMA members that have the same passion and vision for our association and industry today as our founding members. The Committee is comprised of Tim Doran, Joel Goldberg, Gregg Panek, Paul Prikos, and Tony Dupasquier. Kent Gladish is our research advisor.
It was my great pleasure to introduce Jim and present him with the award which was created in honor of my grandfather, Johnny Winzeler. Jim is the 43rd recipient of this award.
Jim established his company in 1983, Hommer Tool & Manufacturing Co., which today is one of the premier suppliers of mold components. The company is currently under the leadership of Jim’s son, J.R.
The Winzeler Award has its roots in the establishment of TMA. On August 27, 1925 eight (8) company owners gathered to form the Tool, Die, Special Machinery, and Manufacturing Association. Max Heinze was elected as the first president. Johnny Winzeler joined the association in 1927 with his company Reliance Die and Stamping. Max and Johnny were association pioneers. My father, Harold, and Max’s grandson approached TMA in 1971 to establish awards to recognize our industry and association leaders.
Originally two awards, one for service to the industry and one for service to TMA were ultimately combined into the Heinze-Winzeler Award. In 2008 the Awards committee changed the name to the Winzeler Award recognizing that for the last 20 years my family has been the sole sponsor of this award.
Following is an excerpt of my speech where I introduced Jim at the March 5th event:
Tonight we are honoring Jim Hommer Senior who was unanimously voted the 2016 recipient of the Winzeler Award in honor of my grandfather Johnny Winzeler.
Jim’s education and career path is not unlike other award winners. Jim was on the college track in high school until he went to college and realized he preferred to learn by doing. After a short college career his dad introduced him to a friend with a plastic mold making business and encouraged Jim to “learn a trade.” Jim listened and started a mold making apprenticeship along with theory classes at TMA. Jim was overconfident and restless, bounced from shop to shop and ultimately graduated as journeyman mold maker. Jim’s restlessness continued and he pursued many careers including: mold designer, tool steel sales, and manufacturing management. Not all were successful, but these experiences gave Jim the tools and desire to start his own business. One failed tooling component business ultimately resulted in starting Hommer Tool in 1983. With his Dad providing free labor, and financing from his father in law, Jim pursued the niche of producing specialty core pins and round tooling for molds. Today Hommer Tool is one of the premier suppliers of mold components, currently under the leadership of Jim’s son J.R.
Since the foundation for Jim’s success was his apprentice training, he started giving back to the industry by teaching mold making classes at TMA in 1972 and continued for 5 years. When he joined the board of directors and was elected to Chairman in 2001, he joined Toast Masters to master the art of public speaking to insure that he was prepared for his new position. Jim spent 7 years on the board and many years on the program and entertainment committee. After leaving the board, Jim became a certified NIMS auditor and volunteer to promote our trades in high schools and community colleges. Today Jim volunteers as a tutor to deprived North Chicago high school students and enjoys promoting manufacturing apprenticeship career paths.
Jim married Terry, his high school sweetheart in 1967, they originally met in 4th grade. Terry and Jim have a son Jim Junior, and daughter Katie who have provided them with 5 grand children. Needless to say, a lot of time today is spent enjoying family activities and being involved with the grandkids.
Winters in Florida allow Jim to enjoy boating, fishing, and golf. Terry and Jim love to travel although Terry is not invited on Jim’s annual long distance cross country ride on his Harley.