Michael V. Czerniak; 1931-2013: Exec’s leadership honored for business, civic activism


Michael V. Czerniak, who won plaudits for the Maumee manufacturer he led and its community involvement, died Friday in Toledo Hospital after a stroke. He was 81.

He’d been undergoing dialysis and had diabetes and congestive heart failure, his wife, Dolores, said.

He was a former president, chairman, and chief executive of Metal Forming and Coining Corp. He remained a director of the firm, which is a supplier to the automotive industry. His son-in-law Thomas Weinrich succeeded him as CEO.

He helped bring the company through the aftermath of a December, 1980, fire that claimed 40 percent of its operation. But workers dressed in layers as they reported for duty.

“Throughout all of that, we never missed a shipment. That was his leadership,” said his daughter Diane Weinrich, the human resources manager. All three daughters work at the firm.

He was particularly proud, his daughter said, of the firm’s move in 1997 to a 100,000-square-foot facility, also in Maumee.

He was hired in 1962 as a tool-room supervisor after jobs at Acklin Stamping and Reichert Stamping. In a 1993 Blade interview, Mr. Czerniak said he told Byron Lenz, a founder of Metal Forming and Coining, “that I was going to sit behind his desk one of these days. He said that I was the only guy who ever said that.” Mr. Lenz, to ensure ability matched ambition, sent Mr. Czerniak to business classes at the University of Toledo and the University of Michigan — and then grilled him on what he’d learned.

Promotions followed. He bought into the business and, eventually became a director; vice president and treasurer and, in 1979, president and CEO. In 1988, he was named “small business person of the year” for northern Ohio by the U.S. Small Business Administration district office in Cleveland and was a runner-up for the statewide honor. The next decade, he was named a Toledo area Entrepreneur of the Year. He was a leader in professional groups and was a former Toledo chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association.

He was active in the Maumee Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Foundation board and, in 2006, was named a Maumee outstanding citizen of the year. He’d been a board member of St. John’s Jesuit and Central Catholic high schools; the Anne Grady Center, and the St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation. He eagerly volunteered to raise funds for many causes.

“He didn’t give up, and he wasn’t afraid to ask people for donations and make people feel they wanted to be involved,” his daughters said.

In 1999, he and the company received the Fidelitas Award for Corporate Philanthropy from Central Catholic. He was a cancer survivor, daughter Diane said, and he “felt he was given a second chance at life. [Fund-raising] was his way of giving back.”

He was born Nov. 23, 1931, in Toledo to Clara and Michael Czerniak. He was a 1950 graduate of Macomber Vocational High School.

Surviving are his wife, Dolores Czerniak, whom he married June 6, 1953; son, Steve Czerniak; daughters, Linda Hamel, Diane Weinrich, and Karen Glover; 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Thomas I. Wisniewski Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Historic St. Patrick Church, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to the diabetic center at St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee or Historic St. Patrick, where he was a member and had been on the restoration board.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.