Celebrating the next generation of manufacturers.


Built on the belief students are more likely to identify with, and imagine themselves as belonging in manufacturing, when they see people like themselves succeeding in manufacturing careers. The Custom Direct, Inc. team is committed to promoting sustainable growth in manufacturing through our passion, creativity, and industry experience.

MEET THE 2023 MANUFACTURING MAVERICKS

David M.
Control Panel Builder

"I like to work with my hands and I didn't want to be sitting behind a desk all day so a career in manufacturing is providing me opportunities to learn and grow my skills in the industry.

College of DuPage is giving me the education which supports my work at Simplex. 

Read more...

  • York Community High School
  • College of DuPage

Simplex System Controls provides internships for qualified high school students, and offered David, an intern, the opportunity to join the team upon his graduation from York H.S. in Elmhurst. Now working at Simplex System Controls and enrolled in Project Hire-Ed at College of DuPage, David balances his work schedule with his course load, while continuing to build his skillset.

Reagan T.
QC Lead

"I have chosen a career in manufacturing because I am passionate about it's dynamic nature and vital role in our country. I appreciate the continuous learning opportunities in this industry as it constantly changes, and this passion drives me to thrive on the challenges and opportunities it presents. 

Read more...

  • Faith Christian School
  • Rock Valley College

BTM Industries Inc is an innovative, short run job shop, providing machining and metal working services for over 60 years. Their problem-solving company focus means they find the solutions others say can't be done. BTM Industries Inc provides internships throughout the summer months and coordinates with other area manufacturers to offer facility tours for local high school students. Reagan has been enrolled at Rock Valley College, taking a diverse course load which supports her manufacturing career goals.

Matthew T.
TIG Welder

"My career choice was easy. I could pay a crazy amount of money to go to college OR work and make money today! I have always liked to work with my hands and make things. I took wood shop in high school and my experience with CNC machines helped me learn how to program the Fiber Optic Laser with Sigma Nest software. 

Read more...

  • Lake Park High School
  • College of Dupage-Welding

Premier Manufacturing Corporation is a fully integrated, precision sheet metal fabricator, offering custom solutions to clients in a broad range of industries. Thanks to an introduction from College of DuPage, Premier Manufacturing met Matthew as he was completing his welding certification in COD's Project Hire-Ed program, and offered him an internship. Matthew's passion and problem-solving welding abilities were a fantastic fit with Premier Manufacturing's unique welding expertise. Matthew completed his internship and is now a key member of the Premier Manufacturing welding team.

Nimai R.
Journeyman Tool and Die Maker

"I have chosen a career in manufacturing for a few reasons. I started working in 2020 during the pandemic because I lost my job in the restaurant industry. I was worried about the volatile nature of the service industry. I took shop classes all through high school and I was familiar with manufacturing.

Read more...

  • Evanston High School
  • TMA Tool and Die Apprenticeship

Ward Manufacturing Company is a contract manufacturer which specializes in progressive and compound stampings. Leading the way in workforce growth initiatives, Ward Manufacturing provides an incredible internship program, regardless of age or skill level, where your training environment is focused on your success -- including in-person certification classes and hands-on training. Nimai's career path led him to receive his Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) Tool and Die Apprenticeship certification and is an integral member of the Ward Manufacturing team.

Alex K.
Engineer/CAD

"It is incredibly rewarding and interesting to see pieces come to life from start to finish. I enjoy being able to produce CADs of each part and then seeing the finished product. I also really enjoy the people in this industry and have learned so much from my colleagues. My career gives me my purpose. 

Read more...

  • McHenry High School

HM Manufacturing, Inc. is a power transmission components facility, delivering custom precision timing belt pulleys, gears, splines, sheaves and shafts. The team at HM is driven by innovation and their commitment to addressing workforce challenges in the manufacturing industry. Through their extremely engaging social media presence, HM brings the benefits of a career in manufacturing directly to their target audience: high school students. Building on their online success, HM offers year-round internships, providing hands-on training to students interested in pursuing careers in manufacturing.

Zachary R.
Welder


"Manufacturing is appealing to me because it is a real-world application for artistic and creative individuals."

  • Forest Hills Northern High School

Ace Metal Crafts Company provides fabrication, machining and value engineering solutions by consciously combining deep customer understanding, process improvements, technology excellence and an unwavering commitment to their entire team. At ACE, their trust-based culture embodies everything they do -- including their Own Your Own Development program, where team members actively work on their career goals. Zachary is currently working toward his goal of becoming an engineer.

Jonathan T.
CNC Lead Operator

"My career has made a difference in my life because I am learning more and more about the industry every day. I started in the assembly bay, the entry point for everyone in J.H. Botts. I would assemble packages of nuts, washers, and bolts for customers, which got me into the swing of things and got me ready for the next step. 

Read more...

  • Minooka Community High School, and Grundy Area Vocational Center
  • Joliet Junior College

J.H. Botts, LLC specializes in manufacturing anchor bolts and rods from a range of raw materials. In addition to threaded products, they also manufacture a number of structural steel products, including helix foundations, anchor bolt cages and concrete flared end section grates. Botts produces these products within the precise tolerances prescribed by the A.N.S.I. while ensuring on-time delivery -- thanks to the dedication of the "Botts Family." Both literally (several families currently have a number of family members working at their Joliet facility), and figuratively, Botts welcomes new team members with a highly successful on-boarding process, like the one Jonathan describes in his profile.

Erik H.
Calibration Technician

"As someone who appreciates the importance of precision and accuracy, I was drawn to a career in calibration. Calibration plays a vital role in quality control, ensuring that equipment yields accurate results. I think it's fun how calibration exposes me to new technology and helps me learn how other industries use the gages that we calibrate.

Read more...

  • South Elgin High School

Assurance Technologies provides calibration services, repair services, dimensional inspection services and testing services within the Quality Industry. ATI's Service and Calibration Lab teams follow a strict training regimen with a documented continuous education program -- ensuring they possess the most current knowledge of metrology equipment and the newest technologies in the industry. Erik, part of this team at ATI, began as an intern, an opportunity ATI offers through their hands-on internship program.

Cassandra T.
CNC Machinist Apprentice

"Growing up, I liked to take things apart and explore how things work. Because of this, I knew that I wanted to pursue a hands-on college experience that would also lead to a successful career path. Having been inspired by my dad's manufacturing background and emboldened by my natural desire to be a maker, it was a natural choice for me.

Read more...

  • Cambridge Lakes Charter School
  • Harper College Apprenticeship Program
  • Concordia University Business Management

Crafts Technology I A Hyperion Materials & Technologies Company collaborates with customers to improve their productivity - and optimize total cost of ownership. Through Crafts' strong synergies between their manufacturing, engineering, and materials science sectors within the company, they create systems and components which significantly enhance the overall performance and productivity of industrial equipment. Cassandra, part of Craft's robust Apprenticeship Program, will be featured in early 2024 as part of Amazon Prime's "College Tour" series.

Ronald F.
Production Manager

"The opportunity found me when my dad, who was working as a contractor for M&M, heard they were looking for operators and made the connections. I stayed in manufacturing due to the diverse opportunities and challenges that allowed me to exceed my expectations in just 4 years. 

Read more...

  • Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School

M&M Quality Grinding provides Quality Management System certified in-house centerless grinding, bar straightening, bar saw cutting, bar chamfering, and bar polishing for customers making components for military and medical equipment, industrial machinery, and vehicles. Ronald joined the M+M team 4 years ago, and though his hands-on training, and ongoing career development, is empowered and confident in his Production Manager role.

Cristian O.
Tool Room Apprentice

"My manufacturing career has made a difference in my life by opening my eyes to a new world of technology and the many ways things can be produced. It has also substantially improved my skills beyond my initial expectations, providing me with a more secure future due to the hard work I have invested.

Read more...

  • East Aurora High School
  • Elgin Community College Apprenticeship Program

Amsted Automotive provides engineering and manufacturing in high efficiency mechatronic clutch designs, advanced metal-forming, and powdered metallurgy to OEMs in the automotive industry. Amsted's integrated innovations reduce mass, extend range, improve safety, increase performance, and maximize drivetrain efficiencies. Hands-on training is a vital aspect of Amsted's Apprentice Program -- ensuring team members like Cristian build the skillset required for his Tool Room responsibilities.

Michael P.
Service Technician

"It was an interesting choice for me back in college. I started out with an interest in lasers and how they are used in different industries. Then I found some connections through the school and friends. My manufacturing career has made a difference in my life by expanding my understanding and knowledge of how important the industry is to our everyday lives.

  • Grant Community High School
  • College of Lake County

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales provides complete mold finishing and maintenance, in addition to their expansive laser welding and engraving machine sales solutions. Alliance offers multiple internships simultaneously, and as a result, their workforce has substantial career growth opportunities -- Michael is one of several Alliance Mavericks we will be spotlighting this month!

Jonathan H.
Special Fabrication Welder

"After High School, I did automotive work along with other part time jobs but when Covid hit, all that came to an end. I realized that path wasn't going to be long term and wanted to get into something where I could work with my hands, create stuff and have a future with good earnings potential. Welding caught my attention and I've never looked back.

Read more...

  • Belvidere North High School
  • Rock Valley College Apprenticeship Program

Hennig Inc. designs and produces quality machine protection and chip/coolant management products, with world-wide service centers. Hennig solutions can be custom-tailored to any machine, work-space, or performance requirement.

Hennig is also focused on closing the skills gap in manufacturing, with their Metal Fabricator/Welder Apprenticeship Program, administered through the Rock River Valley Tooling & Machining Association (RRVTMA), in coordination with Rock Valley College. As a federally recognized, certified program by the U.S. Department of Labor, Hennig's program features full benefits, and full-time work/compensation. During the 8,000 hour of paid manufacturing training, apprentice's take classes one night a week, also paid for by Hennig. Jonathan is currently enrolled in this apprenticeship, and now has the long term career opportunities he was seeking.

Caleb B.
Laser Welding Builder & Operator

"Manufacturing has provided stable employment, opportunities for new skill development, and contributing to the economy and society by producing essential goods. It has also improved many skills, and allowed me to learn many new skills.

Read more...

  • Home Schooled
  • McHenry County College

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales provides complete mold finishing and maintenance, in addition to their expansive laser welding and engraving machine sales solutions. Alliance offers multiple internships simultaneously, and as a result, their workforce has substantial career growth opportunities -- Caleb is one of several Alliance Mavericks we will be spotlighting this month!

Carlos E
CAD Operator / Engineering Support

"I love being a part of this amazing process where we collectively come together to turn ideas into real, tangible products. From the very beginning, starting with raw materials, all the way to the finished goods, it's truly a transformative journey that I feel lucky to be a part of. 

Read more...

  • Minooka Community High School
  • Joliet Junior College

Advantage Components, Inc. provides high-quality, custom engineered interconnect products in a wide range of industries, including agriculture, industrial, medical and off-road. As a CAD Operator and part of the Engineering Support Team, Carlos' ongoing career development is creating new opportunities for him to be part of a bigger community of problem solvers.

Matthew H.
Laser Welder

"I always hated school and I never wanted to go back after high school. It was not that I hated learning. I always enjoyed working on things "hands-on," and trades peaked my interest. When I found out that Tony did welding at his shop, I wanted to work there.

Read more...

  • Home Schooled

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales provides complete mold finishing and maintenance, in addition to their expansive laser welding and engraving machine sales solutions. Alliance offers multiple internships simultaneously, and as a result, their workforce has substantial career growth opportunities -- Matthew is one of several Alliance Mavericks we will be spotlighting this month!

Daniel Q.
Calibration Technician

"I'm fascinated by the process of calibration. It's a field that allows me to apply my problem-solving skills, and I get to work with cutting-edge technology. As a calibration technician, I find the constant innovation and the opportunity to work in a dynamic, ever-evolving industry incredibly rewarding.

Read more...

  • South Elgin High School

Assurance Technologies provides calibration services, repair services, dimensional inspection services and testing services within the Quality Industry. ATI's Service and Calibration Lab teams follow a strict training regimen with a documented continuous education program -- ensuring they possess the most current knowledge of metrology equipment and the newest technologies in the industry. As part of this team, Daniel appreciates the hands-on learning opportunity ATI offers each day, motivating him to learn and adapt in his manufacturing career.

Luis M.
Buyer / Inventory Control

"I was drawn to the opportunity to create tangible products that make a difference in people's lives. Manufacturing offers a dynamic and challenging environment where you can apply your creativity, problem solving skills, and passion for
innovation. 

Read more...

  • Wauconda High School
  • Universal Technical Institute

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales provides complete mold finishing and maintenance, in addition to their expansive laser welding and engraving machine sales solutions. Alliance offers multiple internships simultaneously, and as a result, their workforce has substantial career growth opportunities -- Luis is one of several Alliance Mavericks we will be spotlighting this month!

Joshue C.
Tool Room Apprentice

"My manufacturing career has made a difference in my life by creating passion that has shaped my identity. The constant drive for efficiency and quality has made me more detail oriented and goal-driven, not only in my work but also in pursuing personal ambitions. 

Read more...

  • West Aurora High School
  • Elgin Community College Apprenticeship Program

Amsted Automotive provides engineering and manufacturing in high efficiency mechatronic clutch designs, advanced metal-forming, and powdered metallurgy to OEMs in the automotive industry. Amsted's integrated innovations reduce mass, extend range, improve safety, increase performance, and maximize drivetrain efficiencies. Hands-on training is a vital aspect of Amsted's Apprentice Program -- ensuring team members like Joshue build the skillset required for his Tool Room responsibilities.

Ethan E.
Laser Welding Builder & Operator

"I chose a career in manufacturing because it offers me the chance to be hands-on in the creation process, from designing to the actual production of products. There is a blend of creativity and precision that allows me to be involved in designing and ensuring quality. 

Read more...

  • Faith Christian School
  • McHenry County College

Alliance Specialties and Laser Sales provides complete mold finishing and maintenance, in addition to their expansive laser welding and engraving machine sales solutions. Alliance offers multiple internships simultaneously, and as a result, their workforce has substantial career growth opportunities -- Ethan is one of several Alliance Mavericks we have been spotlighting this month!

NEWS

Harper College

Cassie was chosen by Harper College's Apprenticeship Programs, Earn and Learn, to be the featured student for the Amazon Prime TV series, The College Tour. This episode spotlighting Harper College will air in February of 2024. Cassie is currently enrolled in the Harper College Apprenticeship: CNC Precision Machining Program.

College of DuPage

David Mooshool took two years of manufacturing classes at York Community High School before becoming a youth apprentice through the DuPage County Work-Based Learning Consortium. The program was launched by College of DuPage and the DuPage County Regional Office of Education to help create a talent pipeline for a variety of careers, starting with manufacturing. Read more >

MANUFACTURING MAVERICKS and the logotype are trademarks of Custom Direct, Inc. Copyright © 2023. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks, logos and brand names are the property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, trademarks and brands does not imply endorsement.