In life, remarkable stories often emerge from the unexpected. IMTS+ is honored to share the inspiring journey of Courtney Silver, president and owner of Ketchie Inc., in Season Three of “Profiles in Manufacturing,” an IMTS+ Original Series. This IMTS+ premiere aired May 25 on IMTS.com, followed by her full episode. The documentary-style series follows a diverse set of leaders, visionaries, and influencers who have shaped the future of the modern manufacturing industry.
Since 1947, Ketchie Inc., a Concord, North Carolina full-service precision CNC machine shop, has grown from a textile job shop serving local mills to a woman-owned, third-generation corporation serving customers in multiple industries: rail, agriculture, textile, heavy machinery, industrial equipment and specialized OEMs.
“I got into manufacturing in 2008, and I had never been in a machine shop before. I joined my husband, Bobby Ketchie, because he needed help. And I really didn't have a lot of expectations for what I'd be doing or what I was going to work on,” recalls Silver, who had few expectations but no intention of being idle.
“I just wanted to help and wanted to make it better in any way I could. But looking back, I stepped through that door of opportunity and fell in love with machining and manufacturing,” adds Silver.
Her husband Bobby, and third-generation owner, died of brain cancer in 2014 while Silver was pregnant with their second child. While her husband was concerned his passing would put pressure on Silver to take over the company, she maintains that “It felt right.”
“I was supposed to be doing this,” says Silver. “I just want to leave it better than I found it and create something that is going to last a lot longer than I am.”
There’s a theme here – Silver’s view of her role as president is also about helping in any way she can. “My role as president is to be a servant leader,” says Silver. “The favorite part of my role is to watch and help people develop their skills and to provide an environment where they can be the best that they can be with how God designed them.”
This theme extends to Ketchie’s core values as well: 1) Do the right thing. 2) Be agile. 3) Embrace continuous improvement. “I’m very proud of the integrity that we all operate under. You do the right thing for your customers, for your team members, for your community,” says Silver.
Ketchie has a multi-generational team that spans from 20 to 71 years old. “It’s a competitive advantage. Mixing wisdom and experience with young, fresh, new ideas is an energy that’s very beneficial for both a team member and Ketchie,” says Silver.
Silver considers Ketchie “the backbone of manufacturing,” and it comes with responsibility not only to produce a good quality part on time but also to take over the supply chain and provide the whole solution.
“We take that on and go to multiple sources and present multiple quotes and then provide options to our customers. It takes a lot of work and time, but I want to be that solution provider for our customers, ultimately being as competitive as we can be so that our customers are as competitive as they can be.”
Silver may have stepped into her role with no machining experience, but 15 years later, her love for machining is real: “What I love about machining and manufacturing is working with your hands, your heart, and your mind to produce something that's just so useful in our country.”