Wright-K Technology, Inc Heritage
Wright-K Technology, Inc. is a Certified Woman Owned Company, established in 1982, as a privately held Special Machinery builder.
Wright-K specializes in Assembly, Test, Welding and Turnkey systems per the unique needs of our customers. Wright-K had its beginnings in 1982 as Miles Machinery Company. Miles Machinery was purchased by Val Kostrzewa and Dale Wright and the company was renamed Wright-K Technology.
New synergies were formed in 2008 with the acquisition of the assets of Newcor Bay City bringing additional talent in the welding industry and proprietary trademarks and patented designs. “HY-PAK” and “Resistance Seam Weld Head” assemblies are currently being introduced into the Alternative Energy industry with research and development efforts jointly being developed, tested and perfected in our in-house welding research and development lab.
Over the past 30 plus years, Wright-K had expanded its business locations worldwide and now operates all of it design, build, OEM parts and technical services through the Saginaw, Michigan Corporate Headquarters. The Saginaw location consists of 62,000 square feet of manufacturing space, including our R & D lab, as well as, 16,000 square feet of engineering, service and OEM parts operations.
The combination of the talents, resources and reputations of these companies brings over a 100 years of building and servicing manufacturing machinery worldwide.
We invite you to visit our facility and discuss with our talented staff your individual and specialized solutions for your current and future manufacturing needs.
From Trolleys to Lasers
Historically speaking, the Wright-K facility in Saginaw, Michigan once served as a repair station for Saginaw’s “Union Street Railway System.” The trolley system operated in the Saginaw area beginning in the 1800’s with horse drawn trolleys. In 1889, it evolved into electrical trolleys which continued until 1931.
Miles Machinery purchased the current building in 1910, and began building and selling industrial equipment. The southeast bay actually served as the original part of the factory and utilized a wooden floor as its foundation. There was a separate building with offices and a warehouse which now houses the engineering department. There are many current Wright-K employees who had grandfathers, fathers and other relatives who worked in this facility under Miles Machinery.
Still to this day, we use two of the original tracks to move large objects in and out of our wash rack and paint booth
History of Trolley Station
Until 1889, the only means of intercity travel in both East Saginaw and Saginaw City were slow, horse-drawn trolley cars. “Little Jake” Seligman, who sold his interest in the streetcar line in 1889, is responsible for expanding the tracks throughout both cities. By the fall of 1890, electricity was furnished by overhead lines, and many horse-drawn cars were equipped with electric motors and traction systems. The old trolley tracks were not replaced. The new Saginaw electric line was the second line in the state at the time.
The electrified cars threw off sparks overhead as they went between connectons along the tracks, and for years people would not ride these “fire-spitting devils.” Washington Avenue to South Saginaw Street was the first road electrified followed by East Genesee Street. The west side continued to operate horse-drawn cars until 1895.
Although the cost was low – between three and seven cents – many citizens could not afford to ride the new electric interurbans or trolleys. Ten cents per day, six days a week, often added up to a day’s wages for one week of transportation. Most workers walked for miles, if necessary, to work and rode the trolley car only on Sunday excursions.
The interurban was an extension of the electric streetcar between
cities. For a nickel between city stops, as late as the 1920’s, one could ride from Wenona Beach in Bay City to Cincinnati, Ohio. Old-timers recall that the interurban connecting the Potter Street station with south Bay City provided a trip shorter in duration than today’s interstate highway. The interurbans would go through the big tunnel on Tuscola Road at 14th, and there, “drop the shoe.” Given the juice, they would skip to Bay City in 15 to 20 mintues.
Gasoline-powered cars and buses replaced the old interurban and by the end of 1931 the electric trolleys vanished forever from the streets of Saginaw.
1910-1982 (Miles Machinery)
In 1910 William L. Miles started Miles Machinery Company, His son, Harry E. Miles later joined as a partner. A large portion of their sales efforts were directed toward the Detroit area and the large automotive manufacturers. Miles Machinery had an excellent reputation, especially in the rebuilding of machine tools.
Many of these stock machines were metal removal machinery. Gear cutting was a high demand item, as well as milling, boring, automatics, broaches, lathes, planers. presses, shears, tappers, grinders, threaders, and welding machinery. In addition to rebuilding, they offered a large selection of new tool lines which they also kept in stock so they could deliver them to the customer quickly. These lines included Leblond Lathes, Dreis & Krump Presses, Kalamazoo Saws, Canedy Drills, U.S. Electric Grinders and Drills, GEMCO Shapers and Bertch Shears. Miles Machinery then expanded to the Miles Standard Valve Machines.
Our current Wright-K Technology, Inc. Saginaw facility served as both the main plant and office. All rebuilding operations were performed at this plant. There was also a large warehouse on Niagara Street where Miles Machinery housed a huge inventory of machine tools. The success of Miles in the early years was due in part to its large inventory, which allowed them to quickly secure equipment and rebuild it to customer specifications.
1982 – Val Kostrzewa
Wright-K Technology, Inc., the Vision of Val Kostrzewa, started out with just 19 employees. Val Kostrzewa and his brothers, C. Andrew and Joseph, put together a plan (the FMP Plan) to purchase Miles Machinery from bankruptcy court on July 26, 1982. The new company was called the K-Miles Company,
Connie Kostrzewa, Wright-K’s current Chair Person of the Board of Directors and daughter of Val Kostrzewa tells the following story.
On a late Sunday afternoon In the spring of 1982 my father approached me with a question – “How can I bring dignity to the people of Miles Machinery?” (Miles had just filed bankruptcy after tough economic times and a long strike.) We had a long conversation about
pride in work, ownership and the feeling of being a part of a successful company. He spoke of personal pride, belief in leadership and providing jobs to people who Vat Kostrzewa (center) and his brothers wanted to work. It was then that I learned of my father’s plan to purchase Miles Joseph and C. Andrew Machinery from the bankruptcy courts. My father was a very visionary person. He had a saying on his desk `Keep a Dream in the Making.” With the assistance of my Uncles, C. Andrew and Joseph, the brothers put together a plan that was accepted by the courts to approve the purchase on July 23rd, 1982. The day was a great one! Excitement, dreams, hope, renewed spirits and a party. (My dad had an Irish band play a polka at Sullivan’s restaurant on Bay Road.)
Although the first couple of years were rough with the death of Val Kostrzewa and his business partner, Dale Wright, the persistence of tough employees held to Mr. Kostrzewa’s vision to make Wright-K “a recognized leader in the Machine Tool Industry.”
1983 (Dale Wright)
Dale Wright came on board at the request of the Kostrzewa Family in May of 1983. Mr. Kostrzewa and Mr. Wright had been business associates for many years. Mr. Wright merged his company “Wright Engineering and Design” into K-Miles, and they called the new company Wright-K Technology. Val passed away June 26, 1983, one month after Dale came on board.
Dale brought with him engineers and the first Product Engineering purchase order. Dale had done engineering and design work for Val through Val’s other company B&K Corporation. Dale was very well respected in the industry, and his presence helped the company to flourish as a Special Machinery Manufacturer in 1983. Dale passed away nine months later on February 20, 1984.
Dale Wright, prior to starting his own business in 1978, had worked for Miles Machinery as the Chief Engineer and Vice President. Mr. Wright and Harry (Ned) Miles had been college friends, graduating together in the 1950’s. During and right after college Dale Wright had been designing ordinance and munitions for the Navy. After graduation Harry Miles went to work at Miles Machinery as the Vice President and asked Dale Wright to come on board as Chief Engineer.
Dale Wright was a true gentlemen and always focused on everyone’s strong points and how to develop them.
1984 (Dick DeYoung)
Dick DeYoung was named President of the newly formed Wright-K Technology in May of 1984. He held this position for 11 months until a severe health problem forced him into a long term illness.
Dick DeYoung was a business associate of Val Kostrzewa. When both Val and Dale died, Robert Floeter, who had worked at B&K with Val for many years and had retired, was contacted by the Kostrzewa Family and joined the Wright-K Team. Bob Floeter suggested Dick DeYoung come to Wright-K Technology. Dick came on as the President. Bob Floeter was helping organize the Sales Department.
The first action Dick DeYoung did was to hire John Sivey as the Chief Project Manager. As a former Miles Machinery employee, John Sivey was very familiar with Wright-K. John came on board and merged his company (Siv-Lon) with Wright-K.
During his 11 months, Dick DeYoung and Robert Floeter began to expand our Special Machinery business into the Automotive Industry.
Bob Floeter started selling in 1945, working at several different shops for a few years, then settled in at B&K in 1953, and helped bring them up in size by bringing in many new automotive accounts. He retired from B&K in 1983, after new management took over the operations following Val Kostrzewa’s death. Andy Kostrzewa, who was Chairman of the Board of Wright-K Technology, Inc. contacted Bob, after both Val Kostrzewa and Dale Wright passed away. Andy wanted Bob to help them find someone to run the business. Bob convinced Dick DeYoung to come and work here at Wright-K as President. Dick only lasted about a year before his health problems forced him to leave. Bob took over at that point, and that’s the story of how he came to work at Wright-K.
Bob has always favored developing the engineering portion of our business. He feels that even in tough times companies are still working toward designing new products, and machines to build for when times get better. He is impressed with how far we have come in the engineering end of our business in the last 15 years.
When asked about highlights of the past, Bob said “When you get to be my age, you’re not going to live in the past, because there is just so much of it.”
“My philosophy has always been that I like to treat the employees of Wright-K as I would like to be treated. I try not to hold anything back from them, and if an employee asks me a question about the company, I answer. I don’t believe in company secrets, they work here, and employees deserve to know what kind of an outfit they’re working for. That’s my philosophy, and I think it has proven to be successful.”
1985 to 1988
New services were offered in the manufacturing end of our business such as Laser Systems, Plastic Injection Equipment, and a State-of-the-Art Inspection Room
Expansion projects during these years included additions to the Saginaw facility’s Engineering Building, Manufacturing Building, Offices, and needed capital expenditures. This was a period of hard work and steady growth.
This hard work and dedication by our continuously growing staff allowed Wright-K to offer even more services to our enlarging customer base. With the addition of new staff members and the talent that they brought, such as our enhanced Systems Department, we were able to provide full service projects to our customers, expanding the size of the projects we could propose and challengingly handle, and thus creating more opportunities.
1990 to 2000’s
Extensive community involvement, job partnership programs, international development, and expansion, expansion, expansion! Wright-K Technology has been steadily improving and adding large additions onto our beautiful historic building.
Wright-K has received numerous awards in recent years for helping promote and provide jobs to the local community. Our Employees enjoy competitive wages and benefits; and owners who encourage and support employee development through a continuing education reimbursement program, and Apprenticeship Training programs.
John Sivey, President of Wright-K, says “Wright-K Technology is an industrial leader in quality equipment and engineering services because of our excellent professional staff who believe in putting the customer first.”
2000’s and beyond (John P. Sivey)
John Sivey, current President of Wright-K Technology, Inc., started out as an employee of Miles Machinery in 1972 in the General Services Department.
John’s early years included 2 years in the army, then schooling at Delta College, Panama Canal Zone College, then Saginaw Valley State University. In May of 1972 he went to work for Miles Machinery in General Services. Even in his early days he remembers thinking he wanted to be the President of the company some day. From 1972 until 1976 he was in the Apprenticeship Program for Machine Repair. During this apprenticeship training he was promoted, in 1975, to Machine Repair Supervisor.
He was in the Miles Machinery Sales Department from 1978 to 1980. In 1980 he left Miles Machinery and started his own business called Siv-Lon. He ran Siv-Lon until 1984 when he merged his company into Wright-K Technology, bringing his staff with him. John started as the Chief Project Manager for Wright-K Technology.
In 1987, John Sivey, Bob Floeter and Connie Kostrzewa formed a partnership to provide top level management direction in Wright-K Technology.
From 1987 to 1995 John held the title of Vice President, although there was never another President.
Odd story, but when Val Kostrzewa bought the business he was the President for seven months then died. Then Dale Wright was President for nine months and died. Then Dick DeYoung was President for eleven months and became permanently ill. Then Robert Floeter who had been organizing the sales department was asked to become the President. He looked at the front lobby wall that was lined with past Presidents and said “NO, not that title,” but he would take on the title of CEO instead. After John Sivey survived a train accident, the board told him it was now safe for him to take on the title of President.
In 1996 he assumed the title of President. John is active in numerous civic activities including Board of Directors of Boy Scouts of America, Board of Directors of “Our Littlest Angels Benefit,” Exchange Club, Private 100 Club, Saginaw Valley Manufacturer’s Association, and NMTA Association.
Connie Kostrzewa – Chair Person of the Board of Directors
I grew up as part of a manufacturing family. My father and grandfather had started another similar type business in my grandfather’s garage, which grew into B&K Corporation. They had that until the family sold it after Val’s death in 1983
I always felt like I wanted to make it on my own, so I went into education. In 1982 I had talked to my dad about an interest in industry. We had talked about taking some classes in business and other related activities. So at that point I had started attending some of the Saginaw Valley Business Industry Development meetings. I had gone to a few of these meetings, and within months we had purchased Miles Machinery. That first summer I wasn’t teaching, so if you look all around the front of the building in Saginaw you will see red cinder stones for landscaping, I shoveled all those in there. I borrowed my brother’s truck, and we would all come over as a family and do landscaping and start to clean things up. The building was very poorly cared for because Miles had been in such financial straights they had no money to put back into the building. After the purchase, that was the first thing we did, clean up. Quite a few of us just came in the evenings to do what we could to help out and clean. Then in late fall of 1982, my dad started to experience some health problems. My Uncle Andy started to come in once a week and have management meetings and keep the staff focused on the business at hand Then I started coming in after school and attending these weekly meetings just to see if I could lend a hand.
Dale Wright had just came on board in May 1983, and I offered to work every day after school in May. Then the first of June, I began working full time to help out. I worked full time for two weeks and then my dad died. I offered to stay through the summer, then as that went on I could see they really needed help, so I took a leave of absence from my teaching job for one year. I never left after that. In February of 1984, just when business started to pick up, Dale Wright passed away.
My first job (not counting shoveling cinder blocks) was to answer the phone and do general office and clerical types of work. We had a service coming in to clean, but it was only once a week, so we all pitched in and cleaned at the end of the day. At that time we did all our own typing of the payroll and accounts payable checks by hand, and inventory, so I just became more and more involved and interested. When Dick DeYoung and Bob Floeter came on board I assumed more of those responsibilities. I’ll never forget that one day I called my sister Judy and said the auditors are coming in and I needed her to come in for a couple days to help answer the phones while I was dealing with the auditors. That was in 1985 and she has been here ever since.
This is the type of business that “once it’s in your blood, you never want to leave.”
My mother, Julie Kostrzewa, right from day one has been a very strong board member, attending every meeting. Having lived in this business her whole married life, she knew what the demands of this business were like. The demands on cash, time and energy.. She has also been a good sounding board for me.
I would also like to mention that we have received outstanding support and professional advice from my Uncles Andy and Joe Kostrzewa, and other family members. Uncles Andy and Joe have been active Board of Director members since 1982. They are always available for advice, giving us good sound business suggestions, challenging us to become a financially sound business, and encouraging us to keep the business wheels turning:
My Aunt, Rita Demko, has been on staff since September of 1988 providing invaluable assistance in business operations, customer satisfaction and employee development. Aunt Rita has brought “integrity” to the business and she has taught me the true meaning of “hard work” and “family pride.”
My dad was always stressing the importance of treating people with dignity, and that is how we have always tried to run Wright-K Technology, Inc.