Ken Wilson Ford Used Trucks – For every football that is thrown, kicked or groped on match days in the National Football League, sports fans across the country can give hard support to Salem-based companies that have developed into global proportions.
Several years ago, Haltec Corp. signed an agreement with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. which will provide the company’s air inflation system for football manufacturing operations at the Wilson plant in Ada, Ohio. That caused Haltec to provide inflation services on the ground to the NFL through Wilson.
Ken Wilson Ford Used Trucks
This is only one revenue stream for a manufacturer which for years has emerged as an example of a textbook about steady vertical integration and technical agility, because it directs the view to expansion.
“We were founded in 1970 by Frank Hall, who worked for Goodyear and sold it to companies like Caterpillar,” said the company’s executive vice president, Dave Caruso. “When the tire gets bigger and bigger, it develops a super large drill valve that can fill tires with air eight times faster than valves on ordinary truck tires.”
What started 48 years ago as a specialized valve manufacturer for original equipment manufacturers has developed into a company that has pioneered valves and inflation systems for over-the-road truck manufacturers, service plazas, Wilson, global mining companies and even Walt Disney World.
“We have about 90% of the original equipment market now,” Caruso said, meaning that nine out of 10 over-the-road trucks that motorists see traveling along American highways use Haltec valves manufactured at the 50,000 square foot factory in Salem . And, customers are now using an automated Haltec inflation system and valve to help manage aftermarket wheel assemblies.
In addition, Haltec has carved out a large enough market internationally, especially in the mining industry, Caruso said. “Between 30% and 40% of our business is exports,” he reported.
In the first decade of the company, the business remained stable with sales never exceeding $ 1 million per year. In 1986, Hall sold the company to Ed Russell, who worked for suppliers with aftermarket experience. “He has all these contacts in the aftermarket, and that’s when the business really starts to grow,” Caruso said.
Haltec employs 10 when Caruso started in the company in 1986, he noted, with one product line. Today, Haltec employs 130 in Salem with a diverse product base that involves all aspects of tire rim assembly. “We sell gauges, chucks, wheel nuts, tire management systems,” he said.
Caruso was reluctant to share sales figures, but they clearly far exceeded the initial simple Haltec days.
When technology in all industries developed, it opened the company up to new lines of business, said Ken Coyne, director of sales and marketing. “We are challenged with sales technology,” he said. “It started about 20 years ago.”
That means expanding Haltec’s interest in valve manufacturing to developing an automatic tire inflation system, Coyne said. “We had these two types of systems when we started 20 years ago and now we have around 90,” he said. Currently the inflation system is used for various markets besides truck tires. “We use it to fill carbon fiber pressure tanks, footballs, basketball and bicycle tires.”
The company designs the scope and shape of certain valves to meet customer needs. From there, CNC mills automatically machine brass stock rods to valve heads, while rods are formed simultaneously in other parts of the factory. Valve rods and heads are soldered together to form parts. “This is a special component. But this is very critical,” Coyne said. “We are truly a turnkey manufacturer of our core products.”
At the same time, the technician was working on an electronic system in another part of the Salem factory that would be installed in the new cellular inflation system – which was specifically for Penske Truck Group. The steel sheath for the inflation unit was made in Salem through another vendor, and the system was assembled at the Haltec plant. “They are made by hand, programmed, and through a process of quality control,” Coyne said. The size, color and configuration of these units depends on the customer’s wishes, he said.
In addition to valves and inflation systems, the factory produces hose assemblies with rotary tools and pressure gauges. There is even a line of office furniture made from teak wood and recycled motorcycle tires marketed by the company, Caruso added. “It’s a new line called Retyred,” he said.
A few years ago, Haltec chose to expand its ownership through the acquisition of a tire nut company in Florida and buy a research and development company in Limerick, Ireland, which only focuses on torque. “We can provide torque services specifically for companies around the world,” Caruso said.
The result is the creation of a comprehensive tire management program for global and U.S. customers.
“We have automated our technology by adding Bluetooth and the Zigbee communication protocol to our entire process. All services – tire valves, torque, inflation – are connected through a software program that we market as a Haltec tire management program, “he said. Customers can also use the a la carte service menu.
Safety has emerged as the most important factor in consumer travel, said Coyne, director of sales. And research and development related to torque is very important. “In our call center, we manage all buses with Goodyear,” he said. Haltec monitors all Goodyear bus tire systems in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Walt Disney World.
“We mandate that they have the right hardware,” Coyne said, “and then we manage the vehicle with our software so we know the condition of the tire every time we check.”
This progress has led to a breakthrough agreement with some of the largest companies in the world, Coyne noted. Haltec, for example, shared a patent along with Love Travel Stop for its TravelPass line in various travel plazas throughout the country. The TravelPass line allows the driver to refuel while simultaneously monitoring important issues such as tire pressure. “This is used nationally,” he said.
Several years ago, Haltec signed an agreement with Wilson to provide inflation services for its factory in Ada, where NFL balls were hand-sewn.
“We are redesigning their ball machines,” he said. “Wilson then saw a number of opportunities at the high school, college and NFL levels,” while Haltec provided an inflation system for all Wilson rubber balls produced in Nashville. “We can expand around 80 balls per minute. We will do 15 million to 16 million balls per year for all of their sales nationally. ”
The NFL team uses the Haltec portable inflation system in the field, while others are placed in the locker room. The device can measure pounds accurately per square inch of inflated football and determine whether it is in the 12.5 NFL regulation window to 13.5 psi. “We provide an inflator team so they can meet the exact needs of running back or receiving,” he said.
Coyne said the arrangement with Wilson is an example of how Haltec can provide consistency during the inflation process. “They produce balls with Haltec inflators. They use quality control before going out to the team with a Haltec inflator. The team used the Haltec inflator for training. They prepared the ball for the match day using our equipment, officials used our system on match days, “he said.
The same line applies to tire and wheel management systems – from valve manufacturing to digital tire management itself, Coyne said. “You bring consistency to the whole process.”
The company is also active in the commercial aerospace industry and producing valves and provides an inflation system for customers such as Delta and American Airlines.
“We have hundreds of systems throughout the world,” he said. “We make all valves for Delta.”
Jason Howard, manager of marketing strategy at Haltec, said that new inflation technology invited opportunities in the defense industry. “They bought a lot of valves from us. But all of their inflation systems came from the 1950s, “he said. “We have many opportunities here, but you have to get the right people. And we are working on it now. ”
Moving in this direction makes sense, Caruso said, because the military is often looking for a source that can provide services for all its fleets – be it airplanes or land vehicles. “That’s where Haltec can enter,” he said. The company’s torque technology, for example, is not limited to tightening wheel nuts, but is related to all important assemblies as well.
As for the future, the next step is to expand business physically with new production and distribution spaces, and introduce more space for research and development, Caruso said.
That is what drives the company’s 50,000 square foot expansion in the World Trade Park in Leetonia, Caruso said. Earlier this year, Haltec bought a 20,000 square foot building that was once occupied by the Port Authority of Columbiana Regency. Adjacent lots have enough space for expansion, and that’s where companies are looking to build new buildings for manufacturing and distribution.
“We are growing with the right hardware and the right software,” Coyne said. “Chasing technology.”
Copyright 2018 Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.