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Charles Leader

Faith in our Leader

When Charles Leader, BSME ’60, founded Leader Engineering Fabrication back in 1984, he did so on a strong foundation of faith. Since then, his beliefs have fueled most every action of the company.

Leader is dedicated to his faith in God and shares quite often that He is the reason for any success he has had.

Leader takes great pride in his company’s business model, which he adapted from the Bible’s “golden rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Charles Leader welcomes a group from ONU to tour his company.

“I work for the service to people, not the money,” he says.

With this in mind, Leader Engineering Fabrication has made a mission of providing quality services to its customers, employees and the community. Leader strives to assist his customers in developing new ideas and then transforming those ideas into equipment that overcomes manufacturing challenges.

One such challenge involved the flexographic printing industry, and the solution developed by Leader is one of his proudest accomplishments.

A mainstay for printing packaging containers, flexographic systems were long troubled by the bottleneck created during the pre-press process. Existing methods to hand-mount and align the printing plates on the printing cylinder were somewhat accurate but could be extremely error-prone or time-consuming for the operator, leading to costly delays between print runs.

During the flexographic process, each separate color run must be in perfect alignment so that the overlapping colors can create a clear print. Once aligned, the press operator must then stop to examine his or work; if out of alignment, the entire process must begin again.

To put an end to such delays, Leader developed the Leader Vision Center Mount System, a device for which he holds a patent.

Created in 1989, Leader’s fully automated digital system is easy to operate and delivers quick and precise mounting. Because the software in the system does all of the alignment work, the risk of human error has been eliminated.

The end result of this state-of-the-art vision system? The highest-quality printing in the flexographic industry. Leader says that developing this printing process is one of his greatest achievements.

“We have developed an accuracy with this machine that cannot be duplicated,” he says.

The Leader Vision Center Mount System

In addition to the Leader Vision Center Mount System, Leader Engineering Fabrication specializes in die-casting equipment, food-processing equipment, and custom machine design and production for automakers and tier-one automotive suppliers. Past and current clients include General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Navistar and Caterpillar.

Another hallmark of the company is its loyalty to Leader’s hometown of Napoleon, Ohio, where it was founded in 1984 with six employees in a 6,000-square-foot facility.

The company’s first activities involved fabricating steel cans for Campbell Soup. The business expanded until the company built a 24,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility using a development grant from Henry County and the city of Napoleon.

Scott Bauman, a senior mechanical engineering major from Napoleon, Ohio, met with Leader last spring and was instantly impressed. “Coming from a town of less than 10,000 people, I had limited options in finding a person to look up to,” Bauman says. “As a child, I looked up to family members, teachers, and people I read about or saw on TV. After visiting with Charles Leader, I feel that I have found someone from my own town to look up to.”

Today, the company counts 35 employees; among them are five mechanical engineers and eight electrical engineers. Leader values each and every one. He believes that one person does not make a company; it takes many people to be successful, and as an owner, he remembers to appreciate the work these people do.

“The company is only as weak as the weakest person here. If they’re not doing their job, that’s all we have,” he says. “I have the right people here at the company, from the software developer to the guys in the shop.”

“I know we send the best quality machines out the door that we can build,” he continues. “If there are problems, we will take the necessary steps to fix it.”

At the end of the day, Leader just wants to treat his clients with the same respect he would hope to receive. Do unto others, and success will follow.

“My customers are the best advertising we have.”