Manufacturing Industry Specialist Senior Business Coach
Mike Chester has spent 36 years in the metalworking industry, all in the Chicagoland area. He spent 14 of those years as a Class A tool and die maker, and another 22 years as a manager.
Mike got his start in 1976 as a tool and die maker in a variety of job shops and contract manufacturers. He is a graduate of the TMA Related Theory Apprentice Training program, completing his four-year apprenticeship in 1980. In 1986, Mike began his career at Buhrke Industries. He started out as a tool and die maker in the company’s Tool Division, which served the canning industry at the time. After four years, in 1990, he was promoted into a management role as Tooling Foreman. Just two years later, he was made the General Manager of the Tool Division.
In 1994, Mike moved to the Stamping Division, becoming its General Manager. Buhrke Industries sold its Tool Division, and the company entered into formal restructuring. During this time, he enrolled in the CBA program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1996, he earned his Certificate in Business Administration with an emphasis in Strategic Planning, and was promoted to President of Buhrke Industries. In 1999, he became minority owner of Buhrke industries. He became the majority owner in 2001. Three years later, Mike sold Buhrke Industries to Innovative Manufacturing Solutions (IMS) and stayed on as President. In 2012, he resigned as President of IMS.
As an industry leader, Mike served on the TMA Board of Directors from 2000 until 2006, and served as Chairman in 2005. While Chairman, he was inducted into the Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. He has served on numerous committees at TMA, including Chairman of the Metalforming Education Committee. Mike now serves on the Manufacturing Education and Careers Committee (MECC) and helped launch the hands-on training center housed at Buhrke Industries.