If the Frank Bacon Machinery Company ever decides it needs a corporate motto, one likely candidate might be: “What’s Next?”
For the past 70 years, Frank Bacon Machinery has been in business in and around Detroit. Its focus has shifted through the years, from stamping and grinding units to today’s sophisticated tensile and compression devices. But none of it would have happened had Frank Bacon not retired from the Marines at the end of World War II, moved back home to Michigan, and wondered, “what’s next?”
Today, John Stencel IV, is president of the mechanical testing business his grandfather Frank founded in a one-room office on Detroit’s 8 Mile Road in 1953. He describes Frank Bacon as a voracious reader who foresaw Detroit’s emergence as the hub of America’s postwar auto industry, and who taught himself the basics of the machinery business he knew would be an integral part of that development.
“He figured Detroit would become a haven for machinery manufacturing,” Stencel says. “So he read all he could and taught himself the business from the ground up. After he started his business he became one of the earliest members of the MDNA.”
Much of America’s used machinery sales business is strengthened by deep family ties. Third-, fourth-, even fifth-generation operations are not uncommon. And each generation faces its own set of opportunities and challenges.
“A lot of people who get into this business are a family member or know a family member,” Stencel says. He recalls his transition from Saginaw Valley State University to the working world in the spring of 2010 this way: “I graduated from college on a Friday and started that next Monday.”
He went to work for his father, but gets his grounding in the machinery business from both the Bacon and Stencel sides of the family. And the MDNA is nothing anyone had to explain to him.
“I’ve been around MDNA people since I was in diapers,” he declares. His father is a past President of the MDNA, and John IV started as a secretary of the Detroit/Toledo chapter and quickly moved up to be a representative on the national board. He currently holds positions as a national board director-at-large and chair of the MDNA’s public relations committee.
Frank Bacon Machinery is in a third-generation location as well — all at different addresses along the 8 Mile Road corridor. It opened a 30,000-square-foot remanufacturing and storage facility four years ago, and still maintains a 10,000-square-foot testing lab and storage location as well as a 50,000-square-foot warehouse in Detroit.
Two years ago, the company introduced its own line of new tensile and compression equipment — the Frank Bacon Machinery line. In addition to the new, used and remanufactured equipment, the company also offers engineering services, calibration, testing and training to its customers.
And what’s next? Rest assured, at Frank Bacon Machinery, somebody’s already asking that question.