February 10 | 7:30-10:30am
Rockford Toolcraft | 766 Research Parkway | Rockford, IL 61109
Tour to follow

It can be said that manufacturing is the backbone of our country but, even more so, of our region. Our history is rich with innovation. As a community, we are makers – we create things. From parts on the Mars Rover to commercial airliners, widgets and screws to metal stamping, manufacturing is who we are. But, like most things, manufacturing has changed drastically over time. Technology has revolutionized the industry and Rockford is frequently on the cutting edge. Learn more about manufacturing from some of the greats in Rockford.


Tom Busse Bio.jpgTom Busse – President, Rockford Toolcraft Inc.
Tom started working at Rockford Toolcraft Inc. in 1982 as a freshman in high school. He worked part & full time during his 4 years of school. After graduating high school in 1986 he began his Tool & Die Apprenticeship. After completing his 4 year apprenticeship he built dies and in 1991 was promoted into the engineering department to become a Die Designer. In 1993 he was promoted to Vice President. He served in this position for 18 years assisting his father in building the company up to its current size. In 2011 Tom was promoted to President where he oversees the daily running of the business. In 2012 he began the buy-out of the company from his father Jerry.

On a personal level, Tom resides in Rockford with his wife Susan. They have 3 children. (Their youngest son Anthony is an Apprentice Tool & Die Maker at Rockford Toolcraft). Tom is very active on the board of the Rock River Valley Tooling and Machining Association. He also serves on the United Way’s capitol campaign committee and the Rockford Rescue Mission’s “ Works Center” committee.
Fred Young.jpgFred Young – CEO, Forest City Gear
Fred Young graduated from Rockford College in 1965—his major was English Literature with minors in Math and Physics. In the late 1960s his parents, who founded Forest City Gear, retired and left Fred (who was exposed to the gear industry at an early age) to run the family business. Today Forest City Gear is a world wide known gear manufacturing business.  The company sells gears to China, Australia, Singapore, Germany, and Switzerland, and Canada.

Fred is an active member in the American Gear Manufacturer’s Association, and was Chairman of the AGMA in 2000.  He serves on the board for Rockford University and is active in many local charities with wife, Wendy. Forest City Gear remains a family business today–He married Wendy Nutter Young, 1999 MBA Rockford College graduate and president of Forest City Gear.  Daughter Kika oversees HR & marketing; daughter Mindy serves in graphic design and document creation. The Young Family resides in Roscoe, Illinois.

Breakfast Menu