Hy Ash started his company in 1967 as the only employee and $6,000 in starting capital. Today, Michigan Drill & Cutting Tools has over 200 employees and a catalog listing 70,000 products.
As the name suggests, Hy’s company makes drills . . . but not the type you’ll find at the hardware store. His business makes custom drill bits for industrial use.
In early November, Hy (pronounced “HI”) added some new, computerized machines to help get products out to customers as quickly as possible. His team needed the equipment because they were having difficulty filling open positions. INB loaned Michigan Drill the money for the new purchase.
“We would hire the people if we could,” says Chief Financial Officer Scott Hertzog. But since they couldn’t, they opted to purchase new equipment.
Michigan Drill has distribution facilities across the United States, with headquarters in Troy, Michigan and Miami, Florida. Hy is originally from Michigan, but went to college in Florida. When he looked to expand, he chose to go to a place he was familiar with and that offered the workforce he needed at the time.
Family Business in Every Sense of the Word
Hy is proud of what he’s built. He says his goal now, at age 80, is to develop a management team that can take over for him. “I want to keep this baby going,” he says.
Hy’s recent birthday party was a Zoom event. “180 people were there by feeds from our locations throughout the country,” he exclaims. “There were 10 birthday cakes.”
With high energy and of love of talk, it’s easy to understand that Hy’s staff enjoys him as a boss. And he enjoys them, “I’ve had some people who have been with me 50 years,” he says proudly. “That means a lot to me.”
Hy doesn’t have to look far to find his actual family. His wife, Ellen, runs a perfume business out of the same building that houses the Michigan Drill factory. Hy calls Ellen “genuine” and “well-liked” by the staff. “They always ask me, ‘Where’s Ellen?’ if I show up alone.”
Hy considers “nice” a fundamental part of his business success. “I know it sounds corny, but I look for nice.” He says that when he first met INB’s Gabriella Cioli, he was impressed. “I could read her. I liked her,” he says bluntly.
When looking for a lender, Hy found himself in a bit of a predicament. “We are too small for big banks and too big for small banks.” He says his experience with INB has been “wonderful.” “You are a businessman’s bank,” he says. “INB came to us at an important juncture in our business. When other banks questioned what we were doing, INB realized our business model was different from others.”
He adds the transition to INB was easy. “It all happened in two days.”
Drill Business has Historical Importance
Industrial drill bits played a very significant role in World War II. Women took many factory jobs and used the same equipment used by Hy’s team today to craft parts that were used in airplanes and other military equipment. “We’ve acquired some brands over the years that the Smithsonian is interested in,” he says. “We have a collection of tools which tells the history of America.”
Even Hy’s employees are very much part of the story of America. For example, his plant supervisor, came from Cuba in the 1980s. The former high school business teacher walked into the Miami plant and asked for a job. He eventually worked his way up to supervisor. Scott calls his colleague, “A true immigrant success story.”
Hear from Hy Ash as he talks about banking with INB.