GREENVILLE – Dale Hartway started low on the ladder at Greenville Tool & Die (GTD) when he was 18 years old.
Fifty-five years later he still works a full day at the shop every day after climbing to the top position.
During his senior year of high school, Hartway had a conversation with his father about following in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, but Hartway knew that was not something he wanted to do.
“He told me, ‘If you don’t want to be a farmer, then you should go work with Mr. Ash,’” Hartway said.
That’s what he did.
Working up the ranks
Stanley P. Ash founded Greenville Tool & Die in 1946. GTD established itself as a leader in the industry by providing customers with high quality metal stamping dies, according to the company’s website.
Hartway started out as a die designer apprentice in 1956 during his senior year of high school. He turned down a football scholarship to Ferris State University to work at GTD.
Hartway said he did not think he would stay for 55 years when he started working for the company, but said he hoped he could.
In 1960 Hartway moved up to die design journeyman and then became the die making journeyman in 1962.
Hartway became the chief engineer in 1965, vice president in 1980, executive vice president in 1983 and president in 2002.
Hartway added chief executive officer to his resume in 2007 and holds that position today.
“I have nowhere else to go,” he joked.
Hartway said starting at the bottom and coming up through the ranks helped him a lot.
Leaving the company never crossed Hartway’s mind during his career and said it is his career that kept him at the company through the years.
“I enjoy it,” Hartway said. “I have been very fortunate to get into a career I enjoy.”
GTD Vice President Ted Bush, who has worked with Hartway for 29 years, said Hartway is dedicated to the company.
“He really loves this company or he would not have been here for 55 years,” Bush said.
He said if he could sum up Hartway’s dedication to the company in one word it would be “instrumental.”
“He was instrumental in the growth of technology through the years,” Bush said.
Keeping the work flowing
In his 55 years at the company, Hartway said he is proud to see GTD being a leader in the industry with computer technology and die making.
He brought computers to the company in 1980 to help it advance. GTD was the first to advance in the computer technology before any of its competitors, Hartway said.
“My biggest thrill was making GTD a leader in design and building of sheet metal stamping dies,” Hartway said.
He also is proud of helping the company through rough times.
When similar shops where closing around the state and around Greenville, Hartway said company leaders had many meetings to discuss what costs could be cut while maintaining operations.
“We are a lot leaner than we use to be,” Hartway said.
GTD President Larry Caverley has worked will Hartway for 44 years. He said Hartway is well respected among the customers because of how he has guided the company.
“He has had good leadership through trying times,” Caverley said.
Hartway said he enjoyed working under Ash and having Ash be his mentor.
Before Ash retired, he established an ESOP, an employee stock ownership plan, which Hartway said the company is still running under today.
“(Ash) would say, ‘We want to be leaders not followers’ and that always stuck in my mind,” Hartway said.
For the future, Hartway said GTD is moving in the right direction and hopes it continues to be successful.
“My main goal is to keep my fellow employees employed,” Hartway said.
Outside of work, Hartway collects classic cars, goes golfing, rides snowmobiles and enjoys NASCAR.