ROCKFORD - Some people go into the family business because they're told to. But, one local company's second generation of owners proudly and passionately carries on the tradition of the father, who founded the place more than five decades ago.
"Everything you have goes back to this industry," said Dial Machine President Jeff Anderberg. "This industry is the concrete at the bottom of the whole foundation."
When you have a conversation with Anderberg, the first thing you notice his enthusiasm for manufacturing. It's not just for the company his father founded in 1966, Dial Machine. He's excited for the whole industry doing well. It's a passion he caught from his 78 year-old father, who still comes to the shop every day.
"When we can't figure something out he loves to put his two cents in and rub it in a bit that he figured it out. You can't beat gray hair."
Jeff joined the operation when he was still in high school.
"Just sweeping the floors and cleaning parts and just worked my way up."
Now, he and his brother, Eric, run the company. Dial Machine is a precision machine shop and it's one of the biggest in the country. There's nothing small about their operation. They're in a 115,000 sq. ft. facility.
"We do everything from parts that push in the dirt to parts that are smashing atoms. We're finishing up parts right now for a telescope that's supposed to see light that's 11.5 billion years old. We've done a lot of work on the navy rail gun."
Most of Dial's customers are in the U.S., but their products go overseas. One telescope the company's already worked on is on duty in Antarctica. Dial workers also played a little-known part in world history. Rewind to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Saddam Hussein's statue was pulled down by an armored vehicle whose winch was made from parts created by Dial.
"That was a big deal. Everybody knew we played a part in that because that was machined here."
Dial is very involved in getting young people interested in manufacturing. The company is active in the Annual Manufacturing Day event. Local students tour shops just like Dial to see what the industry is really like. Jeff says it's important to show kids their options for their futures and Rockford's.
"I want to get people working again. I've got older guys and I got these younger guys. But, I want to get more younger guys going because these older guys, there's only one way you learn the knowledge and that's passing it on."
Dial recently started a new business remanufacturing machines. Companies all over the country send their machines to Dial to be refurbished.
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