Working with your father isn’t always something you grow up thinking you are going to do. And sometimes taking over leadership of your dad’s advanced manufacturing company wasn’t always the plan either.
Dennis Tully, the late president of MTD Micro Molding (Charlton, Mass.), was involved with the contract manufacturer from his high school days. He cleaned the machines and ended up operating some of them by the time he got to college. When he got out of college, he worked for a couple of other companies until his father called and asked if he was interested in joining the family business full-time.
“The desire to help the family business was pretty intriguing and that was the challenge that I couldn’t say no to,” Tully told Medical Design and Outsourcing in June 2017.
Tully passed away on Feb. 28 at the age of 58.
Tully earned his bachelor’s degree in plastics engineering from UMass Lowell in 1982. After working for a few other manufacturing companies, he joined his father’s company, Miniature Tool & Die, when he was 28. Tully told us he never saw himself running the company or taking over for his father until he became plant manager.
“I just went with the flow. Eventually, it became obvious that there was an opportunity further down the road to buy my dad out,” he said. “That pretty much evolved over time, but it certainly wasn’t the plan from the beginning.”
Tully was always fair with everyone, and he once credited his father with teaching him that important leadership lesson.
“Be fair — not only with your customers but also with your employees,” Tully said. “If you treat everyone in a fair manner, you’re going to have an easy time maintaining your employees, and you’ll have a chance at maintaining your customer base for the long term.”
Things happen all the time, Tully said in 2017, and disagreements can easily be handled if there is fairness on both sides.
“I think that’s been a very important lesson and a good driver for us, because when we get into a situation or we have to negotiate our way out, we always try to be fair,” he said.
MTD Micro Molding has been in the contract manufacturing and micro molding space since 1972 when then Miniature Tool & Die was founded by Tully’s dad. After nearly 50 years in the industry, Tully said MTD Micro Molding doesn’t make promises it can’t keep. He thought that was because of a lesson his dad was big on when he was president.
“It’s OK to underpromise and overdeliver, but certainly not the other way around,” Tully said.
Tully also said that MTD Micro Molding tends to be more “conservative” when it signs on to different projects.
“At the end of the day, our customers wind up having an enjoyable experience rather than the other way around. When you overpromise and underdeliver, you may never get another opportunity,” Tully said. “If you underpromise and overdeliver, nobody ever cares that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do. But that’s in a positive direction, not a negative.”