Named president just weeks before Covid-19 spread around the world, Masters talks about his history and how it has been managing the company during the pandemic
Kinetic is a company specialized in the manufacture of industrial knives and hardened wear products. With over 70 years of experience in manufacturing and application for the broader demands of the paper industry and related fields, the company welcomed last year its new president: Cash Masters.
Masters started his professional career at Kinetic when he was 11 and has extensive knowledge and experience in the industrial knifemaking business. Today Kinetic is a third generation family owned company and Cash continues the tradition of maintaining the company in its position as the “world’s premier knifemaker”.
He was named president in 2020, just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic spread and the world went into lockdown. Check out the interview with Cash Masters, the new president of Kinetic:
What is your history with Kinetic?
Cash: From a very young age I would come into the shop with my dad on weekends, my first memories were playing with a blue truck on his office carpet. If I got bored playing with my truck he would turn on the keypunch computer, this was a data entry station for our IBM System 36, I could just type whatever into it. As I got older, remember we are talking like 10 years old, I would start to work in the shipping department, helping to wrap parts or dip parts in the hot dip seal plastic. My first real paycheck, was when I was 11 years old.
Once I turned 16, I started to do the local truck driving during the summer; this consisted of pick up and deliveries for local vendors. At the time, our purchasing agent, John Demo, called our local vendors and asked them to show me around their shops so I could learn what they were doing. This was very interesting for me to see.
Once I turned 18 years old, I started to run the machines, I basically learned a bit on all the machines in the shop, mills, lathes, grinders and heat treating. At the same time, I was going part time to college, though I would never finish.
The machines in the shop that interested me the most were the grinders. The first grinder I ran was one of Kinetics first grinders; it was a German Surface Grinder. From there I moved to running what I believe was the second oldest grinder in the shop, a 1956 No. 18 Blanchard. This was a very old machine and it had seen a lot of use over the years. I had to learn many tricks on this machine to make good parts. In 1995, when I was 20 years old, I got involved in the first grinder Kinetic had to send out for rebuild, a 42” Mattison Rotary. When I visited the Mattison Machine Works Factory in Rockford, IL I was simply amazed, all the large machine tools intrigued me. From there on out I knew I wanted to learn as much about grinding as I could so I could improve our process for grinding industrial knives here at Kinetic.
Over the next 25 years, I would be the key person who would make the decisions on new and rebuilt equipment purchases for the company.
During this time, I would as well learn all about the knife making process. I would listen to the Kinetic “originals”, these were the guys who worked for the company when we were on 34th street in Milwaukee and made the move to our current location in Greendale in 1970. I was able to learn the “old school” process and then think of new and more efficient ways to manufacture with new equipment and techniques.
I guess you could say I had a lot of help when I was able to learn from guys with 25 plus years of experience.
How has your first year as President of Kinetic been?
Cash: It has been a very long year to say the least. Starting in February I brought on Rocky Sperka, our new CEO. He has a strong financial and sales oriented background. Rocky and I worked very close with our finance and sales team to get a solid plan moving forward for sales. Then COVID hit.
This was nothing like we had ever seen before; we had daily meetings with our managers to get updates on our employee’s health and safety then reports from sales on what was happening at customers. Could our sales people get in to customers? Not get in? Some customers were ordering several months of product in advance, in case there were larger shutdowns. It was absolutely nuts. Going from having a couple meetings a week to being in meetings all day was a shock to my system. Add in the Zoom meetings, and these were very long and stressful days.
Sitting down now during the Christmas Holiday and reflecting back, I think about how strong the entire Kinetic Team is and how with this strength we made it thru 2020.
What is your favorite part of leading Kinetic?
Cash: Leading the best team of sales, engineers, finance and skilled craftsman and women in the world. Together we make the finest industrial knives and hardened wear products.
What can customers of Kinetic expect to see in 2021?
Cash: 2021 is going to be a game changer. Even with all the chaos in 2020 we are going to be rolling out 2 new products for the tissue industry in 2021.
Kinetic is going to be the exclusive distributor for a world leader in the heat-sealing belt sector. These are the sealing belts that are found at the end of a packaging line for tissue products.
Then as well we have our off line log saw grinding unit. She has been named O.L.G.A., short for Off Line Grinding Apparatus. This will allow Kinetic, or our customers to grind in Log Saw blades before they are installed in the log saw units, increasing productive uptime at our customer locations.
I feel that given the craziness of 2020, to have our team move forward on these two products really shows how strong we are here at Kinetic.