Michael Budney was born in 1911 in Ulatowo Adamy, Poland while his parents were visiting relatives in Poland. Michael returned to the United States with his parents when he was just six months old. His birth name was “Mieczyslaw,” which his first grade teacher accidentally translated into “Michael.” He’s been known by that name since.
He grew up in Newington, Connecticut and worked hard to support his family. He did everything from farm chores to various jobs as an altar boy to raising rabbits for local markets. He stayed in public school until the 7th grade, after which he enrolled at E.C. Goodwin Technical School in New Britain. He graduated from the school around the age of 15 with a certificate as a toolmaker/machinist.
Through a job-study program, New Britain Machine hired Michael as a machinist, where he stayed for six months. For twelve years after, he worked as a toolmaker for Colt Firearms in Hartford. During this time, he was married and began to start his family.
In 1940, Michael, along with his siblings, rented a small garage on Wakerfield Court in New Britain to manufacture tool holders for his former employer, New Britain Machine. They named their little business Atlantic Machine Tool Works. Over three years, the business became successful enough for them to construct a building of their own in Newington. This was due largely to the relationship with their customer, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, a division of United Technologies.
In the early 1950’s, aircraft was in high demand for both commercial and military use. Michael’s company could not keep up with its workload as it grew beyond its machine capacity. During that time, major manufactures of jig borers and other precision drilling equipment were behind in their production of the machinery necessary for the aircraft engine components. Machine purchases were limited to once per year and Atlantic Machine was unable to complete their customers’ orders.
Due to the scarcity of the materials, CEO and President, Michael allowed the company to purchase a metal casting foundry in Southington. Atlantic Machine’s engineers dismantled the existing jig borers, grinders and milling machines. By replicating the mechanical parts, they created their own brand which became known as the Atlantic Series Jig Bores and Series Grinding and Milling Machines. These helped Atlantic fulfill its orders with their customers. Eventually, the United States Government sponsored Atlantic Machine in their worldwide distribution at machine trade shows in Europe and Africa.
Throughout the years, Michael’s company provided employment, housing and transportation for thousands of Polish immigrants. The company had a personal recruiter working with the Polish Immigration Committee of New York. The recruiter traveled several times each week to New York City to help Polish immigrants who arrived in search of employment and housing. Michael also signed the “Affidavits of Support,” which guaranteed employment and housing to hundreds of Polish immigrants. This helped many immigrants to migrate from Poland and Western Europe to the United States. Many of the employees for Michael’s company were Polish and it became its own small Polish community.
Michael tried different projects from dairy farming to motel construction and management. Many of Atlantic’s employees stayed at these motels with transportation. In 1969, Atlantic Machine was sold to Ex-Cell-O Corporation, an international manufacturer based in Detroit, Michigan. Michael stayed on as president for just one year before leaving the business he founded 28 years previously. Most of the founding family members also retired from the business.
At age 59, Michael created other manufacturing businesses. With son Hank and brother Henry, Michael founded Berlin Manufacturing, which also employed a large Polish workforce of roughly 80 people. Then in 1983, Michael with his daughter and two sons started The Budney Company, which also employs 100 Polish-speaking workers. Even now, at the age of 103, Michael still goes to the factory five days a week to observe the company and speak with his employees.
For the better part of six decades, Michael’s contributions to the Polish community in the United States have been profound. He provided employment, housing and a future to hundreds of Polish immigrants. Through Michael, these Polish families were able to preserve and continue their Polish culture and pride. Many of these families formed what is known now as “Little Poland,” and elevated the recognition of the Polish community in New Britain and Connecticut.
Michael’s tireless energy, determination and strong work ethic are a wonder. Since childhood, Michael never stopped working to make life better for everyone, including his Polish ancestry. Michael Budney worked hard to achieve all of his accomplishments and has never slowed down during his entire life.