New England’s Manufacturing Journey – From Axe Making to Advanced #MFG

New England History

Manufacturing Past is Manufacturing Prologue: The origins of New England’s advanced manufacturing sector.

As my first contribution to this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce myself and my connection to the territory under my charge -the Northeast- where I have proudly lived and worked all my life. As the birthplace of America’s industrial revolution, we in the Northeast are proud of our manufacturing roots; in the early 1800’s, my 3rd-great-grandfather established a business manufacturing farming tools in Ashford, CT. The “Axe Factory,” as it was known, gained the reputation for excellent products “warranted by a conscientious application to quality and skill.”[i] This ethos was passed along to my 2nd-great-grandfather who applied it to his work as a temperer at the U.S. Armory at Springfield, MA in the 1860’s, as well as to my father who has worked in manufacturing all his life. It has further continued with me… I have worked exclusively for family owned industry leaders in the manufacturing industry throughout the Northeast. While the fabric of manufacturing in the region has changed considerably, I have found that the same entrepreneurial spirit, conscientious application to quality, precision and skill that propelled our ancestors – continues to imbue the constitution of those in the industry.

 Advanced Manufacturing:

The Northeast has become renowned for its advanced manufacturing prowess- a progeny of the region’s technical skill and spirit.  The New England Council, the Country’s oldest regional business association, believes that advanced manufacturing has the unique potential to bring great economic growth to the region[ii].

So, what is advanced manufacturing? The New England Council describes it as “that which harnesses significant training and well-honed skills to develop highly specialized products in industries such as aerospace, life sciences, medical devices, semi-conductors and nano-technology.”[iii] The Council released a report in 2015 titled: “Advanced to Advantageous: The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution.” A full copy of the study may be viewed here: Advanced-to-Advantageous.  Among the comprehensive findings, of particular interest was the high regional proportion of total manufacturing jobs (58%) that are considered advanced manufacturing. For instance, in the State of Connecticut, nearly 72% of all manufacturing jobs are in the advanced manufacturing industry [iiii]. Thus, it seems clear that the majority of the region’s core manufacturing competency is in advanced manufacturing.  My colleague, Scott Romain, discusses similarly positive national manufacturing trends in his blog:  American Manufacturing is Alive and Still Doing Very Well 

Maintaining Excellence and Quality through a Noble Purpose:

Just as my grandfather’s farming tools assisted early New Englanders in the pursuit of their trade, WENZEL METROLOGY equipment is well suited to enable the region’s advanced manufacturing sector to meet the standards of quality and precision required. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I find myself representing a firm that has gained, as my ancestor’s Axe Factory did, a reputation for “excellent equipment warranted by a conscientious application to quality and skill.” Wenzel Metrology equipment is renowned for its quality, precision, accuracy, and repeatability… these are must haves in the advanced manufacturing field. This opportunity to assist the Northeast in excelling in a sector that has the power to bring significant economic growth to the region, provides a noble purpose to my work which I have been seeking for some time.   

Strength in Partnerships:

TJ Chapman - Northeast Regional Sales Manger, Wenzel America.

I believe the Northeast is unique in its ability to utilize partnerships to its advantage – perhaps this has to do with the geographically compact nature of the region – perhaps its ingrained in tradition. Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to be joining the ranks of a proud, family run firm that has built its business on strong partnerships. I am here to foster relationships, and to add value to our partners. I am here because this is what I was I meant to do!

I look forward to continuing established relationships with our partners and cultivating new partnerships throughout the Northeast to the betterment of us all.

  T.J. Chapman – Northeast Regional Sales Manager.


[i] J.J. Beers Co, editor. Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties, Connecticut. vol. 1, J. H. Beers & Co., 1903.

[ii] The New England Council. (n.d.). The New England Council. Retrieved from

[iii] Ibid.

[iiii] The New England Council, & Deloitte Consulting LLP. (2015). Advanced to Advantageous: The Case for New England’s Manufacturing Revolution (Rep.). Page 9. doi:

Spingfield Armory Photo Credit: NPS (Public Domain).