1998 Diecutter/Diemaker of the Year
Calling on half a century of experience and wisdom, Frank Clay helped shape the diecutting and diemaking industry.
By Dawn Whalen
The post-war era of the late 1940s offered endless job opportunities for millions of young men. Not many, however, even by the standards of the day, remained with their first employer, or in an industry that, at best, offered them only a job with no strings attached, but no promises either.
Frank Clay was the exceptionby choice.
For nearly 50 years Clay spent his days, weeks and months growing relationships, building a prosperous diemaking operation and helping to ensure his chosen industry as a whole was positioned for long-term success.
Frank Clay is being recognized as the 1998 International Association of Diecutting and Diemaking (IADD) Diecutter/Diemaker of the Year not simply because he spent so many years working in a single industry, but because he worked nearly half a century fostering relationships first, and then at building a business and helping an industry as a whole prosper.
Clay's first job after high school was with Ace Finishing, where he worked for a year. Using contacts he made while at Ace, Clay made the only real job switch of his career in October of 1950, to a small, up-and-coming dieshop, Reliable Steel Rule Die. For the next 19 years Clay learned the craft of diemaking. But more importantly, he learned to build relationships with customers.
Clay put his all into Reliable for nearly 20 years, until the entrepreneurial bug bit him and he struck out with a partner and opened his own dieshop, Aaction Steel Rule Die. Unfortunately, perhaps fatefully, Clay had made himself indispensible at Reliable. Within a year Reliable's management lured Clay back. Three years later, the remaining partner at Reliable passed away and Clay became president. For the next 22 years he continued to not only lead Reliable to a position of industry prominence, but became a driving force in establishing an industry association where diecutters and diemakers could exchange ideas on business and technology.