Working alongside your father in the family business is not an uncommon experience. Studying for an engineering degree alongside him is a less familiar story.
John Lech (B.Eng ’81, Mech. Eng. and Mgmt.) was a third-year engineering student when his path crossed with his father’s in Dr. Ross Judd’s heat transfer class. For several years, his father had been taking courses toward his B.Eng. while continuing to work and support his family.
“Witnessing his passion and dedication to becoming an engineer as a mature student played a major role in my choosing mechanical engineering as a career,” says Lech.
After graduating, Lech’s father united with a partner to launch Burlington Stamping Inc., a metal stamping and manufacturing company. A few years later, Lech joined his father in that firm, where he spent nearly three decades mastering the design of production tooling.
By the time Lech opted to sell the company in 2013, the family had built it into a 25,000 sqft. manufacturing facility with $5 million in annual sales to major automotive and battery companies.
Over the last few years, he has taken on some interesting and challenging consulting projects, including one with the Philippine Department of National Defense on the production of ammunition components.
Particularly enjoyable, says Lech, has been the opportunity to share his specialized knowledge and experience with an enthusiastic young group of employees.
“It’s really gratifying to watch them grasp concepts and utilize the knowledge they’ve gained to solve everyday problems,” he says.
“I never envisioned myself commissioning, teaching, and mentoring a young generation of skilled workers and introducing them to this type of technology. It’s become a passion for me, and a way of almost coming full circle in terms of how I was mentored and motivated by my father.”
Meanwhile, Lech’s daughter is continuing the family tradition of McMaster engineering. In September, she will enter her final year in her Civil Engineering studies.
“I am immensely happy that the McMaster connection in the Lech family is thriving,” says Lech.