Michael Wilks retires from Bunting

Bunting’s marketing director Michael Wilks has announced he has retired. During 23 years with the company, Wilks has been a core member of the management team overseeing a prestigious period of sales growth and company acquisition.

Wilks’s career path eventually led him to a local Wichita manufacturing company as the sales and marketing director until he met Bob Bunting, the CEO and president of Bunting Magnetics Co. This proved to be Michael’s career-defining moment.

Assuming the role of Bunting’s marketing manager, Wilks oversaw all aspects of marketing, including the management of over 15 small and midsized trade shows each year. With a focus on company growth and following implementation of a personality assessment tool to get the right people in the right positions, Michael was identified as “The Big Picture Guy” and was promoted to director of sales and marketing. This involved setting longer term strategies that would take several years to execute.

Soon after, following unexpected changes within the team, Wilks assumed the additional roles of sales manager and territory manager. Despite the significant workload, Wilks successfully retained those roles for the next five years.

This was a period of evolution for Bunting Magnetics Co., with a focus on sales growth and profit maximisation. One initiative tasked Wilks with reducing marketing costs by 30%, which he achieved in part by moving all advertising services in-house rather than through an agency.

In 2007, Bob Bunting identified an opportunity producing flexible dies for narrow web and folding cartons, and to gain market share in the manufacture of magnetic cylinders. The following year, Wilks left his position as director of sales and marketing to take on the new challenge as general manager of the Flexible Die Manufacturing Facility. He was tasked with overseeing construction of the new manufacturing unit and startup in just eight months.

After eight months, Bunting produced the first flexible dies and launched the product at the 2008 Label & Narrow Web trade show in Chicago. This was an incredible achievement made more difficult by the country’s banking crisis at the time.

The business evolved into largely magnetic printing cylinders under Wilks’s management. Breaking into the sector was challenging due to entrenched competition, but Wilks identified that reducing the lead time was a key selling point. Michael and his team worked hard towards reducing lead times by as much as 50% reduction. By 2015, the Bunting machine shop was manufacturing magnetic cylinders at capacity, operating two full shifts with mandatory overtime. The magnetic cylinders business remains a core part of the Bunting product portfolio to this date.

Wilks returned to the role of marketing director of Bunting in mid-2018 and oversaw the rebranding of the business.  However, Wilks requested that he continue in his role as printing product manager, despite the increased workload. This sense of responsibility and commitment to the cause is reflected throughout Wilks’s career. Wilks relinquished the printing product manager position in 2023 and retires while in the role of Bunting’s marketing director.

Since joining Bunting in 2001, Wilks has been a key member of the management team overseeing the company’s evolution. Bunting has made many company acquisitions, including Magnet Applications (UK and US), Master Magnets (UK), e-Magnets (UK), and MagDev (UK), and owns four manufacturing facilities and one distribution centre across the U.S. and UK.

Over 23 years Bunting’s product portfolio has evolved from small MagSlide conveyors to ultra-strong magnetic separators including the Stainless Steel Separation Conveyor (SSSC) and Eddy Current Separators.

“I really don’t know that I’ve ever met a man fairer and more honest to the people who worked for him,” explained Wilks. “I have seen him stand up for many people in tough situations, and it doesn’t take long to realise that as long as people do the job they were hired to do, he would offer his support to them no matter what the circumstances.”

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