Local family business welds co-workers together

Jamie McBride uses a HaasVF3, a milling machine found at the store. Waco Tool & Die is a shop that specializes in machinery, and the workers there all have strong ties, as many of them are related. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

Katelin Simonson | Contributer

At a young age, both James and GlenAnn McBride discovered a passion for machine work, but as GlenAnn signed the ownership papers making Waco Tool & Die a reality, her hands shook as she held the pen.

“All we had in our pockets at the time was grocery money,” GlenAnn said, “and there we were, buying a machine shop.”

In 1986, the McBride family was both excited and nervous about the beginning of this new chapter in their lives. Owning a machine shop had never been in their plan, but both GlenAnn, owner and vice president, and James, owner and president, jumped at the opportunity to change their passion into a career.

Waco Tool & Die is a local machine shop located off of South University Parks Drive specializing in research and development as well as machine repairs for companies around the world.

The company has remained small, with a total of five employees, but GlenAnn said her employees are fantastic and she would “put them up against anyone.”

According to James, when the company first started, he was working about 100 hours a week to ensure that the business got off to a good start.

As the business found its footing, another member of the McBride family showed interest in furthering the business.

Tony McBride, son of James and GlenAnn, chose to come work alongside his parents in 1992 after deciding that college was not his calling.

“I decided I was done with school, and I came in and asked for a job at the shop,” Tony said.

Their business has become quite family oriented; and they all say they enjoy having their family around.

The employees and owners at Waco Tool & Die face many daily challenges, such as predicting economic cycles, maintaining their machinery and completing government paperwork, but as a family, they learned to leave work at work.

James said, some days it can be extremely difficult not to talk about problems at work while at the dinner table, but they understand that work-related issues can – and should – wait for the office.

Springbranch junior and former employee Chandler Stewart worked for the McBride family at Waco Tool & Die while going to Baylor from 2015 to 2016.

“I loved working there because I enjoyed bonding with the employees,” Stewart said, “and I began to feel like part of the family.”

Employee relationships are important to GlenAnn and James. They both said they always treat their employees with respect.

GlenAnn said she would never ask her employees to do something she wouldn’t do herself.

Roy Gene Buckingham, an experienced machine worker and employee at Waco Tool & Die, knew James long before working for him at the machine shop.

Buckingham used to own his own machine shop and was James’s boss before Waco Tool & Die even existed.

“My shop went broke, and soon after, James needed help here,” Buckingham said.

Buckingham said working at Waco Tool & Die is very enjoyable; and he has learned a lot from his co-workers.

Buckingham, 70, wants to keep working at Tool & Die as long as possible, or as long as James will let him. He enjoys working with machines with a small company where politics aren’t rampant.

The machine workers at Waco Tool & Die work as a unified team and complete machine projects for customers ranging from Space X to local farmers.

The future of the company looks bright, James said, and they have many projects in the works, including research and development jobs within the medical field and the aerospace community.

“I have never done any advertising or anything like that,” James said. “Word of mouth is what’s kept me busy, mostly.”

Waco Tool & Die works closely with their customers and has maintained a strong reputation in Waco. The Chamber of Commerce often recommends them to customers because they have established a reputable name through hard work and dedicated employees.

James is happy with the direction of the business and considers himself lucky just to keep it going.

“When the phone stops ringing and we get slow, I pray,” GlenAnn said. “James will stick his head in and ask me if I’m still praying and tell me to calm down.”

When asked about the future of the company, both James and GlenAnn expressed hopes of keeping the business within the family after they retire.

James said his plan is to take a step back when he is ready to slow down, and he would like Tony to take over if he’ll do it.

For the time being, the employees of Waco Tool & Die all said they enjoy coming to work on new projects every day and would love to see growth within the company in the coming years.

GlenAnn said the company surprised her with how well it has done so far, and her favorite part of going to work every day is seeing the things that are produced because “some of the parts are just amazing.”

With such close-knit employees and a family-oriented atmosphere, Waco Tool & Die has succeeded beyond the owners’ expectations. Their reputation for high quality work and loyalty to customers is evident as clients continue to come back to a company that works very tightly with each other and their customers.