Today’s origin story is by one of the true “good guys” in our trade. I first met Joe in 1989 when I was job hunting. He could tell I was in a bad spot with two young children and a house to sell. Arrow had no openings but he offered to make a few calls on my behalf and called several times to follow up on my progress. He cared about keeping young people in the trade at a time it was seriously downsizing. I will always be grateful for his kindness. — Chuck Schultz
My father was a tool and die maker in Indianapolis, Indiana and he was able to provide a good living for my Mom, 2 brothers, and me. For that reason, I too wanted to be a machinist and I had no interest in going to college.
I consider myself lucky because the high school I attended was “Arsenal Technical” and it was named as such because it was originally a military arsenal which had a large machine shop. I loved having the opportunity to run all of the various machine tools. I even cut a gear on a milling machine with an index plate. I can’t say I remember how good the involute was on that gear. I received a “Machinist Vocational Certificate.”
After graduating from high school, I was hired by The Indiana Gear Works. Since I was only seventeen, I could not operate machines; so, I started my working career as a janitor/material handler. When I turned 18, I was allowed to post for a job opening as an ID/OD grinder. I really enjoyed the challenges presented by this work, and as I had discovered in high school, I loved operating machines.
Whenever work was slow in the grinding department, and when we were asked if anyone would be willing to work in a backlogged department, I would be the first, and, in most cases, the only one to say sure. Over the next 5 years I was able to work in turning, milling, drilling, heat treat, plating, inspection, gear cutting, and gear grinding.
The one department which was the most interesting and intriguing was gear cutting and gear grinding. After five years I was transferred into the gear department, where I spent the next five years. I found grinding spur gears and spiral bevel gears to be a rewarding challenge.
A quick overview — after running machines for two years and seeing my friends off to college, I started going to night school at Purdue University’s Indianapolis campus. After ten years of night school, I received my degree in industrial engineering. After the first five years of school running machines, I was made the gear department lead man, and then transferred into manufacturing engineering. Two years after that, I was asked to go back and supervise the gear department. From there I was promoted to gear superintendent and later to plant superintendent.
Arrow Gear Company, in Downers Grove, Illinois advertised for a manufacturing manager, so I left Indiana Gear and joined Arrow. I eventually reached the position of president and COO before my retirement. Upon leaving Arrow, I started Arvin Global Solutions.
As I look back, I am grateful to have found a career that I could be passionate about. My life would certainly have been different had I gone directly to college after high school, but by having the experience of working on the actual machines, this was a real benefit to my later work in management. I knew how our product was actually produced. I could effectively communicate with both our production people and our customers. I thank God for manufacturing — and the gear companies I worked for and with.
Joseph L. Arvin, an author, inventor and seasoned manufacturing executive, is president and CEO of Arvin Global Solutions, a consulting firm which supports the U.S. manufacturing sector. He is the past president and COO of Arrow Gear Company. In addition, he is a member of the Manufacturing Advisory Board of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a Senior Member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and a board member of its Chicago Chapter. Arvin has served as a board member of the American Gear Manufacturers Association. Arvin has traveled extensively throughout the world, assessing the industrial capacity of foreign countries. Arvin was also a founding member, president and board member of the manufacturing advocacy organization Citizens for American Manufacturing (CAM). Upon leaving Arrow Gear in 2015, he then focused his passion for the support of manufacturing into the founding of Arvin Global Solutions (AGS) (ArvinGlobal@GMail.com), a consulting firm with both a national and international footprint. Through its extensive roster of over 100 resource consultants, AGS offers a full range of expertise to assist U.S. manufacturers achieve excellence, maximum productivity, and operate competitively in the global market.