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WINTER 2020

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Distributor's Link Magazine Winter 2020 / Vol 43 No1

BEGINNING OF A DREAM It

BEGINNING OF A DREAM It was down a country road 12 miles from the border of Ohio and West Virginia that a young boy was born into a coal miner’s family in the little town of Dillonvale, Ohio, population, 619, in 2019. A boy took his first steps toward a future that would enable him to see the American dream come true. Richard A. Kovach was not quite six when he began his first paper route with his older sister, the driving force behind the enterprise. The route consisted of 25 families. Two years later, his sister gave up her portion of the job and Rich continued on his own by getting up before school every morning to make his deliveries. By the time he was 16, his customer base had expanded to 125 homes. Right from the beginning he shared his profits with his parents. As he grew older, he had other part time jobs but one in particular led to a life changing decision that was the catalyst of his success story. While Kovach was working at a service station, a successful business owner brought in his Cadillac to be worked on. After Rich completed the work, the customer turned to him and said,” Rich, the only way to get anywhere is to own your own business.” Rich decided at that moment he was going to own his own business and set his goal toward that aim and never looked back. His course was set although he did not know where or what, but he knew he would own his own business. MOLDING THE DREAM Kovach, a proud U.S. veteran, was of draft age in the years between the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He chose to serve his country in the Army serving stateside with the 4th Infantry for two years. When asked what he learned during his time of service he replied, “I learned to treat people fairly. Being in the service makes a man out of you and teaches you to stand on your own two feet.” He added, “I learned the importance of good communication and that led to my business policy today that the customer is always right. “ EXPANDING THE DREAM After leaving the service, Kovach went to work as an apprentice at Champion Forge, a Cleveland, Ohio company, where he learned the craft of die making for five years. When the company was closed, Rich decided to strike out on his own and start his own company. Cleveland Hardware had closed their die room and they needed an outside source to continue their business. “I could be that outside source,” thought Kovach, and that is exactly what happened in 1970. With only himself, two die cutting machines and two employees, he began working in his own 20x20 garage making original dies as well as doing maintenance on existing dies. He named the company after his son, calling it Ken Tool and Die.

His motto of “service is our strength, quality is our commitment”, paid off as the demand for his dies grew. Nine months later, Kovach leased a 2,500 sq.ft. building and added two more employees. Kovach established himself as a trusted source of sinking dies for forging companies. His integrity, quality product, honesty and dependability reaped rewards. His customer base and employee count continued to increase, but Kovach wore many hats in those days. He was CEO, an engineer, draftsman and die sinker. In 1972, Kovach again knew he needed a bigger facility. He wanted something relatively close to Cleveland and yet away from the big city. He found that spot “down a country road,” called Griggs Road, outside the village of Jefferson, Ohio. It was just a back road with few structures and plenty of wideopen spaces for growth on 21 acres. The very first building was a 3000 sq.ft. structure built and designed by Kovach. Not only was there a new building, there was a new focus. Instead of sinking dies for others, Kovach began forging his own hot dropped fastening hardware. In 1985, Ken Tool and Die became Ken Forging, Inc. The growth of the drop forged industrial hardware business outgrew the building and by 1995, an additional 10,000 sq.ft. were added for processing machinery and forging presses. Today, at their 50th anniversary, Ken Forging has 170 employees working in 450,000 sq.ft. of buildings with a 12,000 sq.ft. shipping area. “I have had a hand in the design and building of every inch of each addition,” said Kovach. In the midst of all the changes and growth, some things have not changed. Ken Forging is still led by its original owner and remains a family owned business which now includes a second generation, Kovach’s son and daughter. The company is still on the original 21 acres down a country road that has since been paved. Kovach’s foresight has given him the land needed to expand and add buildings. The product line now includes industrial hardware in carbon, alloy and 304 & 316 stainless steel with full traceability. Kovach has been true to his country and continues to make all his products in America. With eyebolts its top product, the company also forges rod ends, turnbuckles and fittings, eye nuts, C-clamps and screws, machine strap clamps, pad eyes, wedges, T-slot nuts, D-rings and swivel hoist rings. continued on page 18

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