Entrepreneur Mark Hess is an example of what hard work and perseverance, with a little help from a business incubator, can accomplish. His company, Hess Industries, is a successful tool and die company, as well as a Braintree Business Development Center anchor tenant.
“My wife, Pam, and I started 15 years ago, out of Braintree, which was Mansfield-Richland Incubator at that time,” he said. Hess Industries now has clients across the globe.
The company creates progressive and transfer dies for the metal stamping industry. This includes dies for many things: car parts, lawn and garden parts, motorcycle and even airplane parts for major corporations. Hess noted that his company doesn’t make the parts, just the dies. “We don’t make the cookies; we make the cookie cutters,” he joked.
Partnering with Hutchison Tool Sales Company, one of Hess Industries’ newest innovations is in-die tapping units. Hess noted his company has redeveloped the Hutchison in-die tapping units, which has added an operation in their progressive and transfer dies. The improvements have, in turn, helped Hutchison’s customers save money, retain jobs, and become more competitive. A virtual demonstration may be found here.
Using such high-tech tools as 3D Solid Edge Technology, the company can create a virtual image of the product. “Before we cut metal, we are able to pull up an image of the tooling. We can prove process virtually to be sure everything works,” said Hess.
Hess said that there are two major keys to his success: his faith and his employees.
“I cannot talk about the success of our company without giving glory to God. Through all of the tough days, it was prayer and believing that got me through the adversity and built my character,” he said.
The company currently has nine employees, and hopes to add a tool and die apprentice. “We are a team that really strives for making ourselves better for a common cause. Change is essential to keeping a business successful and our employees embrace the necessary change and are always looking to make things better,” said Hess.
Hess Industries was awarded the 2001 Small Business of the Year Award from what is now the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, and was inducted into the North Central Ohio Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame in 2005.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of Braintree,” said Hess. “We are in a position now where we are able to give back to other businesses here at Braintree. The time and energy that people have invested in us, we are now able to invest that in other businesses and help them succeed.”
He added that questions from new entrepreneurs can range from tax issues to how to move large equipment. “It’s the little details you have to know as a business owner,” he said.
Braintree CEO Bob Cohen noted that the concept of business incubation has played a large role in Hess’ entrepreneurship story, in both receiving and giving. “Early on, he benefited from being in a facility with low-cost space, the flexibility to expand as needed, and the availability of business services that would otherwise add to the cost of doing business such as copiers, fax machine, internet, delivery services, and the like,” said Cohen.
Cohen added that, as Hess’ business became more successful, he began to play the role of mentor to other new businesses, even letting them operate within his space until it was feasible to have their own location within Braintree.
“He served as the tenant representative to the Braintree board, and now, as a graduate company, he again serves on the board of directors,” noted Cohen. “He is a champion of small business and has served as a role model both within Braintree and to the general entrepreneurial community.”
“We’re like a family around here,” Hess said of the Braintree community. “We help each other in our businesses and really strive to make each other strong.”