Sko-Die E-Newsletter - July 2015

Patrick Steininger

I hope all of you had a happy 4th of July holiday. In this edition of the Sko-Die e-newsletter, we'll address the important topic of energy efficiency and the actions being taken across the manufacturing sector, as well as at Sko-Die, to address this critical subject.

As I've always said, the key to Sko-Die's success is its unparalleled team of people. With that in mind we will introduce you to Sko-Die’s Manufacturing Engineer, Bogdan Niculescu, and to Sko-Die's Apprentice Tool and Die Maker, Matt Sakalis, who recently graduated from the TMA Related Theory Apprentice program. 

Thank you, and enjoy the summer,

Patrick Steininger


Industry News

Energy Efficiency and the markets that we serve.

The broad topic of Energy Efficiency touches our lives and our industry in many ways. Cost savings and stewardship of our planet’s natural resources are but a couple of the many drivers of the actions being taken across the manufacturing sector to address this topic.  More than half of all electricity consumed in the manufacturing sector is used for powering motors.  At Sko-Die, the Motor, Generator and Transformer markets are at the heart of those industries that we are proud to serve.  We remain steadfast in our efforts to assist our customers in achieving improvements in the area of efficiency.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has established new and has updated existing standards in both the Electric Motor and Transformer industries that take effect in 2016.  This is not necessarily new activity but rather a continued ratcheting up of the efficiency standards applied to products in these sectors. These new standards are driving innovations in motor, generator and transformer design as well as in the development of improved grades of electrical steels used in these applications. 

The electrical steel producers continue to invest in research and development of improved grades of electrical steels that are required to meet the increasing efficiency standards established by the DOE.  These improved materials are being utilized in the industrial motor and generator sectors as well as the distribution and power transformer sector.  Much of this innovation is being accomplished within existing device footprints and utilizing improved materials to achieve significantly improved device efficiency.  The cost savings from these innovations are in the billions of dollars, not to mention the positive effect on our natural resources. 

Closer to the consumer end of the market, applications such as the expanding Electric Vehicle market (HEV, EV, Plug-In, etc.) are also driving significant innovations in electrical steels. 

It is expected that as many as 15 new Plug-In-Vehicle models will be introduced to the market in 2015, proving that this innovation is here to stay and will likely continue to gain momentum in the coming years and decades. 

Sko-Die is proud of the innovative work that our material suppliers have achieved and that we can now offer to the market.  We are equally proud of the advancements and innovations that our customers have driven and achieved towards the overall goal of increasing energy efficiency.  As you review your current Motor, Transformer and Generator designs and develop new designs, please contact us to discuss ways that we can assist you in this process.  We are committed to bringing our expertise and experience to bear in developing those bridges between the increased demand for efficiency and cost savings and the need to achieve these goals in a sustainable manner.

At Sko-Die, we remain.. .. ..

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Bogdan Niculescu

Bogdan Niculescu

Meet Sko-Die's Manufacturing Engineer

Bogdan Niculescu joined Sko-Die in December 2014, with the goal of improving the processes throughout the manufacturing operational areas.  Patrick Steininger (President) identified the need for someone with Bogdan’s talents with the input from his manufacturing team through a SWOT analysis. This analysis identifies Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in a business and its operations, resulting in a structured plan for improvement. 

With the continual improvement plan as a guide, Bogdan has focused on MPI’s (Manufacturing Process Instructions), scheduling boards, work flows and work area layouts.  For the presses, he has updated lubrication systems, coil bridges, feed supports, coil width stabilizers and part removers.  He has set up electrical connection standardization and improved procedures for die set up, lamination stacking and scrap removal.  Another focus is on the ongoing machinery communication that is key to monitoring production and scheduling.  

Bogdan has always had an interest in design, building and working with his hands.  His ambition to succeed is exemplified in his work history that began when he left Romania at the age of 19 to work on a cruise ship.  After a short time he made the decision to attend college in America.  To support himself, he worked as a waiter, taxi driver and then established his own remodeling business that specialized in residential home improvements and additions.  In 2009, Bogdan graduated from the University of Illinois - Chicago with a BS degree in Computer Science.  To use his education and still work with his hands, he accepted a job as a Manufacturing Engineer at a POP (Point of Purchase) display company, in its prototype division.  In this position he designed new installations and traveled internationally to do in-store set-ups and training.

With the desire to continue his personal growth and gain experience in the manufacturing sector, Bogdan found an online ad for Sko-Die’s opportunity.  After an impressive interview he brought his experience, knowledge, mechanical abilities and his eye for recognizing areas for improvement to Sko-Die.  Using SolidWorks and CAD, he is designing new press parts to increase productivity.  He is studying operations to identify areas to reduce waste in transport, operator motion, inventory and idle time.  He is also supporting the operational managers in enhancing safety and promoting Lean manufacturing principles.            

On a personal level, Bogdan is married to Dominika and has a son Paul and daughter Iliana.  They live in the Norwood Park area of Chicago and enjoy camping and the outdoors.  He plays rugby and considers himself an up and coming gourmet cook specializing in sauces.  He fluently speaks 5 languages (Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French) and is currently learning Polish.  

Matt Sakalis - TMA Related Theory Graduation

Matt Sakalis is now Sko-Die’s Apprentice Tool and Die Maker after graduating from the TMA* Related Theory Apprentice program.  The graduation ceremony, held on May 26, 2015, recognized the dedicated students who completed the intensive 3 year program. 

The Related Theory program includes 504 hours of training presented in 168 sessions.  The first year covers the cornerstone subjects of math, print reading and the basics of machine tool technology.  The second year dives deeper into machine tool technology, and in the third year the student chooses the field in which they want to specialize.  The fields offered are Mold Making, CNC Programming and Matt’s choice - Tool and Die Making. 

Matt has always liked working with his hands. He received CNC training in high school and knew that manufacturing was the field in which he wanted to work.  He started at Sko-Die in November, 2011 after a referral by an employee who was his neighbor.  He started as a CNC Operator and continually looked for other areas where he could expand his education.  Knowing he was also strong in math and learning Sko-Die’s tool and die operation, some research led him to the TMA Related Theory program.  He noted the difficulty of working full time and attending classes at night, but with perseverance toward reaching his career goals, he completed the program.  Matt’s next goal is to reach the level of Journeyman Tool and Die Maker, which includes 4 years of actual work experience and additional training on specialized equipment, i.e. wire EDM machines.  All bets are on Matt for reaching his next goal.  

*The TMA (Technology & Manufacturing Association) is an organization that was founded in 1925 and has grown into a 1,000 member not-for-profit organization of precision manufacturing and supplier companies.  The focus of TMA is training, careers, benefits and networking.

(from left) Matt Sakalis, Susan and Bill Burgess (Matt’s Mother and Stepfather)

(from left) Matt Rychtanek (Sko-Die’s Engineering and Tooling Manager), Susan and Bill Burgess, Matt Sakalis, Jennifer and Patrick Steininger (Sko-Die’s President and Spouse)

For any questions or inquiries, please contact:

Bob Blecha, Marketing Manager, 800-486-4756 X 106,


Michael McGuire, Director of Sales, 800-486-4756 X120,

For more information visit


Sko-Die Inc.| 8050 Austin Ave. - Morton Grove, IL 60053
Phone: 800-486-4756 | Fax: 847-966-0322

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