A Century of GHSP: The Yonker-Fett Legacy

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GHSP, a global leader in the automotive and high-tech industries, is celebrating its 100th anniversary, marking a century of innovation and looking forward to a future filled with endless possibilities. To highlight this monumental accomplishment, each month, a decade of achievements and history is shared on social media platforms to spread awareness and recognize those who contributed to the company's success. We believe you should know about the Yonker-Fett family first due to their long-lasting relationship with the company dating back to the 1930s.  

Clyde Yonker started his career at Grand Haven Stamped Products on March 25, 1937, at its second location on Madison Street in Grand Haven, Michigan, as a Tool and Die Maker. Notably, when Clyde first began, his father, William Yonker, was none other than his foreman! The Madison Street location was extremely limited in space and resources. As a result, all the dies made in the shop were extremely small, and downtimes or breakdowns were a rare occurrence.

Due to new business opportunities from World War II and an already cramped space, Grand Haven Stamped Products expanded in 1939. Some of the products Clyde worked on included pipe clamps for Illinois Railway Equipment Company and various auto body components.

The 1950s marked a time of exploration to find the next big success at Grand Haven Stamped Products. While Clyde’s role was to be a Tool and Die Maker, the team he was a part of was some of the earliest engineers in the company. A few designs and prototypes Clyde constructed were Jiffy fisherman pliers, inspired by his love of fishing on Lake Michigan, and metal clips to hold the flaps of a beer carrier box in place. While none of these ideas made it to the production line at Grand Haven Stamped Products, Clyde's efforts embody one of the four core values we still follow to this day - Stewarding Our Legacy.

On December 1, 1980, Clyde retired after 43 years of service. Then President Todd Markle had these words to share during Clyde’s retirement party “Mr. Yonker has the unique quality of dedication and devotion to his company that has been an inspiration to his fellow workers. He has long carried the history and spirit of the organization and has always been held in the highest esteem by his fellow employees and members of the management of the company.” Currently, Clyde holds the longest active service record.

The family legacy continues as Clyde’s grandson, Brian Fett, is a Mechanical Design and Analysis Engineering Manager at GHSP. Since a young age, Brian was mechanically inclined to create and build things. Clyde would often teach Brian how to use tools and fix specific items when he was at his grandparents’ house. The outcome was that at ten years old, Brian was already an expert with a micrometer. To reinforce his interest in measuring, Clyde would have him go through his drill bits bucket and find one of each size. Once done, Brian could keep the different-sized drill bits to make a full set. Looking back, he realizes this was to keep him busy throughout the day and not drive his grandpa insane.

On February 6, 1997, Brian started his career at GHSP as a Mechanical Engineer Intern measuring various parts. When watching a few engineers use the latest CAD software, Brian was immediately interested and wanted to learn more. After convincing a few of the engineers to let him practice using the CAD software on their computer, Brian could do 2D drawings at a high level in no time. Following his internship, Brian continued working at GHSP doing 2D and 3D CAD projects for a few years.

The next endeavor was moving into product engineering and focusing on automotive programs for Chrysler, Ford, GM, and Mazda. A significant amount of Brian’s early projects revolved around mechanical manual shifters. To this day, he receives frequent calls and questions about a 2005 Ford Mustang shifter. While Brian became extremely knowledgeable about the engineering behind manual shifters, a decrease in demand caused him to pivot and pursue shift-by-wire programs.

One of Brian’s most notable projects was the CD391 shift-by-wire program. Not only was this program successful and challenging, but it also has an interesting backstory. One of Brian’s hobbies outside of work is photography. At this time, he was purchasing broken cameras from the 1970s and 1980s to repair and use. A camera Brian was repairing had what seemed like 1000 parts consisting of tiny micro screws and gears. As Brian pondered how all these small parts were advancing and rewinding the film with the same motor he noticed a little tile gear linkage. If you spun the motor one way, the gear would flip upwards and drive a different set of gears. This concept was adapted into the CD391 program and became a pivotal talking feature for future presentations.

Having been a huge fan of Will Ferrell and his performance as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman, Brian elected to grow a similar mustache for the upcoming release of Anchorman 2. A slight miscalculation for the premiere date led him to keep the iconic mustache for two additional months. During this time, a necessary presentation of the CD391 program left a certain impression of Brian’s appearance to another engineer. To this day, Brian receives frequent questions about his now-missing Ron Burgundy-inspired mustache from this engineer. 

While the CD391 program was by far his most interesting project due to a variety of reasons, a technical area Brian had to heavily rely on to complete the program was simulation, specifically tolerance analysis. Having shown the value of simulation to the organization, Brian moved into his current position as Mechanical Design and Analysis Engineering Manager. In addition to this role, Brian is responsible for growing the India mechanical engineering team that has experienced great success and supports our engineering teams at the Holland headquarters and Shanghai facilities. 

The celebration of GHSP’s 100th anniversary is a testament to its commitment to innovation and adaptation but also acts as a reflection of the company’s historical past. Clyde Yonker’s dedication and contributions throughout his 43-year tenure, as well as his influence through his grandson, Brian Fett, encapsulates GHSP’s century-long legacy. As GHSP embarks on its next century, the Yonker-Fett family’s story serves as an acknowledgment of GHSP’s enduring commitment to innovation, growth, and pursuit of endless future possibilities.

About GHSP

GHSP is a privately-owned company based in Grand Haven, Mich., that specializes in the design and manufacturing of innovative control systems and technology solutions primarily for the automobile and high-end appliance industries. Founded in 1924, GHSP has locations in North America, Europe and Asia. GHSP is a portfolio business within JSJ Corporation, a growth firm with global manufacturing, distribution and service businesses that focus on highly technical skills to deliver engineered solutions. Learn more at GHSP.com and JSJcorp.com.