As I write this, M4 is going in to its 44th year. The company was founded by a toolmaker with an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong desire to live the American dream. Filled with drive and good fortune, my grandfather designed and launched his own proprietary products, as well as partnered with others to bring theirs to market.

He rooted his company around the 4 Phases and 1 House approach: from back of the napkin to full-scale manufacturing with DesignEngineeringTooling, and Manufacturing. In 1976, metal was being converted to plastic, the industry was in its peak, and the phrase from the Graduate around plastics being the future was real.

When I was a little girl, I came in to this factory often enough to appreciate the smell of resin, to get excited about what was being made on the factory floor, and who was on the team to make it all function efficiently. One of those key people on the floor was my mom, a single parent and woman in the industry that led the manufacturing floor as a processor. At a young age she taught me to chart my own path, follow my own star and never let a preconceived ceiling or stereotype dictate.

It was mid-2014 when I decided to move to Chicago and take over my grandfather’s business. It was after the recession hit and after the global economy opened up. M4 was in a challenging place. I committed to being entangled with the maker movement to challenge the status quo and to rebuild an organization with the same focus and passion as it was founded on.

We love to delight customers and we love to make tangible, real, physical products that help make our world go round, and we love to do it as a team. M4 is 43 years old, yet operates with a start-up mentality and we love playing in this space. Cheers to all makers big and small, leading the charge on redefining manufacturing.

Patricia Miller