H.H. Timken in 1917

In 1917, under the direction of H.H. Timken, TimkenSteel began production. Photo credit TimkenSteel Corporation. Used by permission.

Recently, I was pleased to see articles starting to pop up in my hometown newspaper celebrating 100 years in business for TimkenSteel. I grew up in Canton, Ohio and Timken was by far its largest employer.

My father, Robert Lewis Gribble, went to work at Timken in 1940. Shortly thereafter, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps and took part in D-Day. He returned to his job at Timken and worked there for 36 years until he passed in 1976.

Robert Gribble with his squad in France

My father, Robert Gribble (seated 2nd from left), with his squad in France just after D-Day.

Canton, Ohio — Anytown, USA

Growing up in a still-thriving steel town in northeast Ohio in the 1960’s felt like ‘Anytown, USA’. All our dads worked, most of our moms were stay-at-home, we walked to school (and home for lunch), little league was a community event, high school football was huge (OK, this is Canton, Ohio I’m talking about!), we had dinner at home as a family nearly every night, and we, as a city, were very proud of the steel mills, factories, and our prosperous post-WWII lifestyle.

Father: Bob Gribble Posing With Baseball Team

My Father, Bob Gribble, and one of the little league teams he coached. Circa 1968

I was born at the tail end of the baby boom and we all grew up listening to our parents’ stories of how things were during “the war” and our grandparents talked about “the depression”. We tried our best to show our appreciation for things like color TV and ball point pens, however we grew up without missing much. It’s only hindsight that brings the realization of how lucky we were. 

Kent State Tragety in 1971 Cracks in the Foundation

Unfortunately, the stability my parents worked so hard to achieve showed its first cracks in the late 60’s – at the same time our country was going through so much political turmoil – Kent State happened just 10 miles up the road from Canton – we started seeing the first auto factories in Michigan close and then, just a decade later, our industrial heartland was in dire straits…

The ‘Rust Belt’

America's industrial heartland became the 'rust belt'.

America’s once mighty industrial heartland became the ‘rust belt’ in the 1970’s.

By the time I went to college, it was clear to me that my best life prospects were outside the region I grew up in — which by then was starting to be referred to as the ‘rust belt’. 

Consequently, after graduating from Ohio State, I took my first job in Chicago.

I was fortunate to rise to Product Manager and discovered that I was well-suited to taking on full profit and loss responsibility for my product lines. I continued to run profit centers, some as large as $85 million in annual sales, throughout my decades on staff at several leading direct marketing driven companies.

Eventually, I started my own marketing services firm and since then, I’ve helped dozens of companies increase their sales and profits. I’ve always enjoyed discovering what makes every business special, but it wasn’t until I worked with my first MANUFACTURER that something inside me ignited…

My Timken Roots Inspired Marketing 4 Manufacturers

Over the years, I gained valuable experience working with some really great companies, but now I was helping a manufacturer! This was my opportunity to personally contribute to the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing — and a way for me to honor my father’s legacy and so many others of the Greatest Generation.

Jim Gribble Marketing Director headshot

This is why I started Marketing 4 Manufacturers. My mission is to add significant value to small manufacturers here in the U.S. through the implementation of successful marketing initiatives.

I encourage you to contact me so we can discuss your business challenges and opportunities. Feel free to call me on my direct line (231) 227-1164 or use the form below to schedule a time. I look forward to speaking with you.  — Jim Gribble

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