Q&A with Preben Hansen

President at Platinum Tooling

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Platinum Tooling is set to reach an important milestone. In 2022, company President Preben Hansen and his family will celebrate 100 years working in metal cutting and four generations of Hansens in the industry. Hansen recently talked with Gear Solutions about his family’s success.

Congratulations on 100 years. What do you consider the secret
of that success?

Well, honestly, I think, it’s hard work. That’s really what it takes. I mean, if you work hard, it’s possible to be successful. So, the No. 1 thing, I think, is hard work. I think you have a little bit of luck, too, that you tie in with some good people. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by good manufacturers and good people to help steer me in the right direction as well. But No. 1’s hard work.

Does being a longstanding family-owned business help when dealing with the manufacturing and tooling market?

I think it does help, because I’ve seen a lot over the years. I’ve seen where we came from many years ago, and get some indication of where we go. So, I think it’s pretty helpful, actually, in kind of seeing what we need to do these days and understanding the market.

How did growing up in the industry help prepare you for your current role?

Well, I did a lot of things as a young man in the industry with antiquated equipment and old-school type of work, so I know how things were done in the past. And I’ve seen how we can do things way better now. I think just that experience of being around metal cutting and manufacturing and seeing how things have been done and where they could go to has been really helpful.

I’m sure you’ve witnessed quite a few changes and innovations throughout the years. Any particular ones that stand out you’d like to share?

Well, this one’s pretty easy because it was the advent of CNC equipment. When I first worked in a shop, I cranked a lot of handles, and the shop actually had line shafts running through the ceiling where there was a motor running different pieces of equipment. From that to the sophistication of what the machines can do now is a world of difference.

Preben Hansen’s grandfather, Louis Eckart Hansen. (Courtesy: Platinum Tooling)

Do you find that to be more what is bringing new blood into the business, the advent of this new technology?

Oh yeah, for sure. It’s a lot more interesting now to program a machine then standing there and cranking a handle. I’m certain that it’s helped to bring in younger people that could do programming, write CNC code, that kind of thing, that they wouldn’t have been interested in otherwise, for sure.

Are you planning any special events for this family centennial mark?

Well, we haven’t really done that since it’s not really a centennial mark for the company. It’s really my family that’s been in it. This company is not that old, but it’s always good to do something like that. We haven’t planned anything at this point.

Where do you see your family’s place in the industry for the next hundred years?

Well, I’d like to think that we’re going to continue to be part of it. I did just have a daughter graduate as an engineer from Purdue, so I think if she would continue in the manufacturing industry, that would be OK with me. It’s been good for our family. My father started a new life in this country, working in manufacturing. It’s provided well for my family, so I think it’s a great field, and I hope that we can continue in it.

Was there anything else about this particular moment in history you’d like to comment on?

We did this because I felt like it was a really unique thing, and there aren’t that many generational people-owned businesses for one or two generations, but this is one that’s transcended two continents. It started in Denmark; it came over here, and we’re still in it. And we have a successful business here, and I give a lot of credit to my father and my grandfather for laying the groundwork for that.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

I feel pretty fortunate. I think manufacturing’s vital to our country, and I think it’s a really important aspect to the world in general, and people don’t give it enough credit. And that’s why I’m happy I’m talking with you, and I get a little PR out of this because when we call attention to manufacturing, it’s really good for us.