by H&W Manufacturing H&W Manufacturing

As we celebrate 40 years since our company opened, we realize how much our business, and the industry, have evolved throughout the years. To remain competitive for four decades, we have integrated modern technology and continually invested in growth opportunities that align with our business principles. A quick look back shows how our company has changed with the times, while remaining centered on customer service and quality.

From a shed to an industry leading machine shop

As we celebrate 40 years since our company opened, we realize how much our business, and the industry, have evolved throughout the years. To remain competitive for four decades, we have integrated modern technology and continually invested in growth opportunities that align with our business principles. A quick look back shows how our company has changed with the times, while remaining centered on customer service and quality.

Our foundation and ownership

H&W Manufacturing began operations in August of 1978. Anthony Hildebrandt and Nathan “Dick” Williams (partners and founders) opened shop with only a few employees in a small building behind Williams’ home in Houston, TX. The company was founded on the principles of providing products of exceptional quality and going above and beyond to serve the needs of every customer. These principles are still the bedrock of H&W.

It all began at a backyard workshop in Houston in August of 1978.
It all began at a backyard workshop in Houston in August of 1978.
Anthony and Dick both possessed the entrepreneurial spirit and persevered through the early days with hard work and determination.
Anthony and Dick both possessed the entrepreneurial spirit and persevered through the early days with hard work and determination.

Facility expansion

Our growing company made a move to a new 7,500 square foot building off of Spring Stuebner in 1982 to better accommodate our workload. As the company expanded, we added onto our building three times between 2000 and 2007, which gave us an additional 9,000 square feet. In 2009, H&W outgrew that facility of 27 years and moved into a new shop designed to fit our evolving needs. The new 34,000 square foot facility has allowed us to add more than 20 CNC machines which provide us significantly more machining capability.

We moved into our building off Spring Stuebner in 1982, where we stayed for 27 years.
We moved into our building off Spring Stuebner in 1982, where we stayed for 27 years.
Our shop in the 1990s primarily consisted of CNC lathes, production mills and automatic screw machines.
Our shop in the 1990s primarily consisted of CNC lathes, production mills and automatic screw machines.
In 2009, we expanded into our current 34,000 sq ft facility.
In 2009, we expanded into our current 34,000 sq ft facility.
Our facility today holds machines with more advanced capabilities that allow us to manufacture more than ever.
Our facility today holds machines with more advanced capabilities that allow us to manufacture more than ever.

An evolving team

In 1997, the company experienced a big shift when Dick Williams decided it was time to retire. Today, H&W is owned by Anthony Hildebrandt, his wife Lea Ann, and their children. While each of their five children have spent time working for the company, today Ryan, Heather, and Ashley have come to work for the company full-time and play an important role in the company’s leadership, growth and development.

However, without our team of more than 50 talented and loyal employees, we would not be where we are today. We feel fortunate to have committed team members including two that have been with us for 34 years; seven employees that have been with us for more than 20 years and twelve employees that have been with us for 15 or more years. They are the reason for our success as a company.

Our founding partners, Dick and Anthony, ran the business together from 1978 until 1997.
Our founding partners, Dick and Anthony, ran the business together from 1978 until 1997.
Anthony’s son, Ryan, began learning the business in the 1990s.
Anthony’s son, Ryan, began learning the business in the 1990s.
As the company grew, so did the need for more management.
As the company grew, so did the need for more management.
Three of Anthony and Lea Ann’s children have joined the team full time, and help lead the company today.
Three of Anthony and Lea Ann’s children have joined the team full time, and help lead the company today.
Our leadership team is committed to meeting the needs of our customers and supporting our employees.
Our leadership team is committed to meeting the needs of our customers and supporting our employees.
Our incredible team today works together to manufacture quality products every day.
Our incredible team today works together to manufacture quality products every day.

Investing in technology

Since we machined our first part in 1978, our industry’s technology has evolved from predominantly manual to CNC tools. At H&W, as we make changes and consider a new technology we ask ourselves: will it produce a better quality product, will it increase production efficiency, will it improve safety for our employees, and will it help us stay competitive in an ever-evolving global market. If the answer to these questions is yes, we know it will be an investment we want to make.

One dramatic change occurred in the late 90’s when we introduced CNC milling machines. We now have nine CNC mills with multi axis and pallet changing ability. The move from production mills allowed us to increase production, precision and safety.

Another big shift occurred in 2011 when we added Swiss screw machines. This investment increased efficiencies and drastically reduced lead times and customer cost. A few examples of real parts where we have improved efficiencies include:

Time savings

A retainer formerly setup and ran on the manual screw machine and then the CNC mill. Now, the entire run is complete in 49 seconds on our Swiss screw machine.

Simplified process

A body required five different machines. Now we run on the Swiss screw machine and finish on the CNC Lathe, significantly reducing setup and run time required.

Cost savings

A specialty fastener required four operations on various machines. We now make the unit in the time it initially took to run the first operation (80 seconds), reducing production cost.

A more recent change occurred in 2017, when we added a visual system for automated measurement and inspection. This enables our quality department to provide a more precise and more efficient check of dimensions before sending out finished goods to our customer. Additionally, we have developed new strategies that have improved traceability and consistency throughout our workflow to ensure that we meet customer specifications every time.

We are committed to continually improving our processes, and a big part of that is keeping our equipment current. Beyond adding new machines, in the past nine years we have upgraded eight of our older CNC machines to newer technology, and we continue to look for opportunities to phase in new equipment.

We added CNC milling machines to our business in the 1990s.
We added CNC milling machines to our business in the 1990s.
The addition of Swiss screw machines in 2011 has significantly increased production efficiencies.
The addition of Swiss screw machines in 2011 has significantly increased production efficiencies.

Increased Commitment to Safety

As a company, we have heightened our focus on employee safety across all operations in the shop. Specifically, in 2014, we increased the frequency and also standardized bimonthly safety meetings. These meetings allow us to reinforce best practices and foster a safety-minded culture.  Employee education on safety advancements is an essential part of our ongoing training.

Beyond just a management focus, we encourage all employees to hold our company and each other accountable to the safest practices. It takes everyone working together to create a safe environment.

Our team attends a regularly scheduled safety meeting, an essential part of our safety-first culture.
Our team attends a regularly scheduled safety meeting, an essential part of our safety-first culture.
Establishing and maintaining a safe work environment is the shared responsibility of all H&W employees.
Establishing and maintaining a safe work environment is the shared responsibility of all H&W employees.

The path ahead

We are thankful to God for blessing our efforts, we are grateful for our employees’ hard work and dedication to H&W Manufacturing, and we are especially grateful to our customers who have allowed us to partner with them and play a key role in their business. To ensure our continued success, H&W is committed to reinventing ourselves while staying true to our mission to deliver above and beyond for our customers.

If you are interested in learning more about our company, you can read a more in-depth article in  Voyage Houston.