Machine shops struggle to stay open and maintain their business and “getting into daddy’s business” isn’t what it once was, but Platinum tooling in Prospect Heights, Ill., is about to take a big step forward. In 2022, company president Preben Hansen and his family will celebrate 100 years of working in metal cutting and four generations of Hansen men in the industry.
The story began with Preben’s grandfather, Louis Eckart Hansen, who learned his trade in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the early 1900s. Louis worked as a machinist in the Danish Navy repair facility. Preben’s father, Svend Eckart Hansen, honed his skills under Louis’s guidance. In 1958, Svend emigrated with his family, including the young Preben, to the United States. Although he did not know English, he found a job a few days after arriving in Chicago, due to his skills as a tool maker. Svend began his career as a machinist and ended it in the 1990s as a master toolmaker at Ramcel Precision Stamping and Manufacturing LLC in Northbrook, Illinois.
With manufacturing and tooling in his DNA, Preben worked in the machine shop of the former Fulton Machine Company in downtown Chicago, while attending the University of Illinois / Chicago and pursuing an engineering degree. After college, he worked in the Oakley Industries workshop building custom machines. After several years in the store, Preben moved on to the front office and to an internal sales position. Later, at Jemco Tool & Die, he learned programming and setting on their CNC lathes and machining centers, which was his introduction to machine tools and their accessories. His next job was with HPI, now known as Pioneer Heartech Precision Inc., a distributor of tool holders and related products, in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Preben started out as an outside sales representative for toolholders and rotary tables, then moved on to the company’s sales manager. This was followed by work at Lyndex-Nikken, another supplier of machine tool accessories in Mundelein, Illinois. Here Preben was introduced to live tools and again worked as a sales manager. In 2010, Preben formed a joint venture with heimatec GmbH, becoming president of Heimatec, Inc., a company specializing in power tools, angle heads and multi-spindle drilling heads. In 2018, Heimatec, Inc. was purchased by Platinum Tooling Technologies, Inc. headquartered in Prospect Heights, Illinois. Preben Hansen is Chief Operating Officer and President of Platinum tooling.
In total, Preben has over 30 years of experience in the machine tool accessory market and over 40 years in the manufacturing industry. Preben has established himself as an authority on these topics in the North American machine tool accessories market, often hosting knowledge bars at trade shows for ORS crowds.
True to this family tradition, Preben’s son Luke Hansen joined his father’s company in 2018 as a technical sales specialist for several of the product lines sold by Platinum tooling, including collets and Tecnicrafts guide rings for Swiss machines. After graduating from high school, Luke joined the military in search of his vocation and received excellent training. Upon his release, he decided to practice the motivational and goal-oriented skills he had learned in the military. In his current role with Platinum Tooling, Luke continues to expand his knowledge of the machine tool accessory market and build valuable relationships with the company’s North American sales and distribution network.
Looking back over 100 years as a family in the manufacturing industry, Preben Hansen says: âThe machine tool industry has been and continues to be an extremely vital part of our country’s continued success. My son Luke and I are proud to be 3 years olde and 4e professionals of the generation involved in this exciting industry.