MANSFIELD -- North Central State College has honored Mark Hess, owner of Hess Industries Ltd., with its 2020 Alumnus of the Year award.
Hess, a a 1991 graduate from the mechanical engineering program, credits .NCSC for providing an education he continues to use every day.
“N.C. State has helped shape my career and I continue to pull on things that I learned while attending the college,” Hess said.
Hess enrolled in evening classes while working as a tool-and-die apprentice full-time during the day.
“I enjoyed working with my hands and learning how to use each of those machines to make useful things,” Hess said. “The skills I learned were invaluable for my future plans. My goal was to own a tool-and-die business one day.”
When he turned 30 years old, his dream came true.
“My wife and I sold everything that we owned and put it into the dream of working a business,” he said.
Today, Hess Industries employs 14 people. They started with just basic tool-room equipment and a few customers. By investing heavily in technology, the company went from basic equipment to state-of-the-art machinery.
“Twenty-two years later, we have a world-class tooling center selling value-added tooling to other companies all over the world,” Hess said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit this spring, Hess and his team created a hands-free door handle attachment using their industrial-grade 3-D printer.
“It’s during tough times that the true battles are won and your character is chiseled," he said.
Hess and his wife, Pam, feel strongly about giving back to the community. They not only support the North Central State College Foundation, but also the Shelby YMCA, Shelby Foundation, The Shelter, Harmony House, Richland Pregnancy Services, Shelby Help Line, Plymouth-Shiloh Food Pantry, Core Community Church, Shelby Community & Senior Center, and the Richland County Foundation.
“We have been very blessed through the years and have been able to help others and give back in many ways," Hess said.