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2003 FIN – Chronology of the 1st 100 Years of SPS Technologies

March 21
00:00 2010

2003 FIN – Chronology of the 1st 100 Years of SPS Technologies

August 19, 2003 FIN
1903 – Standard Pressed Steel Co. is incorporated on January 19. Howard Hallowell assigns to the company certain patents related to shaft hangers and pulley systems. The company rents a manufacturing plant in Philadelphia.
1906 – SPS begins manufacturing flush head set screws for use in a pressed steel shaft collar.
Over the next few years, two additional plants are added to produce a growing line of Unbrako threaded fasteners.
1920 – SPS relocates manufacturing to the former Wharton Switch-works in Jenkintown, PA. The Jenkintown plant still operates and is the largest of the Company’s manufacturing facilities.
SPS begins producing the Hallowell Shop Furniture line.
1937 – SPS opens its first non-U.S .operation to produce Uubrako products in Coventry, UK.
1951 – Howard T. Hallowell retires as president. His son, H. Thomas Hallowell, Jr. succeeds him.
1952 – Standard Pressed Steel acquires aircraft threaded fastener manufacturer Cooper Precision Products Co. in Los Angeles.
1953 – SPS founds Standco Canada, Ltd. in Toronto to provide sales and warehousing for Canada.
At the close of its first 50 years of operation, Standard Pressed Steel reported an annual revenue of $35.4 million, net earnings of $2.1 million and more than 2,000 employees.
1955 – SPS acquires Cleveland Cap Screw Company.
1956 – SPS opens a steel rolling and finishing mill in Sheffield, England.
SPS offers shares to the public for the first time.
1957 – SPS acquires the aircraft locknut manufacturer Nutt-Shel Company and shop furniture manufacturer Columbia Steel Equipment Company.
1958 – SPS opens a plant in Santa Ana, CA, and moves furniture and fastener production there. SPS purchases National Machine Products Company, which produces locknuts complementing the fasteners produced by the Cleveland facility.
1959 – SPS purchases Kasar Mfg. & Distributing Company Inc. to expand aerospace sales and warehousing. SPS also acquires special nut manufacturer Detroit Diamond Company.
1960 -SPS opens plants in Koblenz, Germany, and Shannon, Ireland.
1961 – SPS shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
SPS opens sales and warehousing operations in France and Japan.
1962 – SPS invests in a 50% ownership of a manufacturing and sales operation in Mexico City and Melbourne, Australia.
1963 – H. Thomas Hallowell is elected chairman.
1966 – The company invests in Metalac Industria e Comercio in Brazil.
1967 – SPS builds a plant in Galway, Ireland, to produce internally threaded fasteners.
1968 – Unbrako Steel Company expands to include rod and bar processing.
1969 – SPS opens an industrial fastener plant in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
1970 – SPS announces restructuring, including disposition of the Columbia office furniture division and other commercial fastener assets and facilities. H. Thomas Hallowell retires and Russell Braga is named acting CEO.
1971 – John Selby is named president and CEO with Hallowell remaining chairman.
The Columbia office furniture division is sold and the National Machine Products and Detroit Diamond facilities are closed.
1972 – 50 patents are issued to Standard Pressed Steel bringing the total to 260.
The company expands research & development with a new lab in Naas, Ireland.
1974 – SPS increases its ownership interest in its Australian subsidiary to 100%. SPS enters the industrial power tool market with its joint control system.
1977 – As part of restructuring, SPS offers its Koblenz, Germany manufacturing plant for sale and closes its Galway, Ireland, plant.
1978 – At its diamond anniversary SPS holds 386 current patents, revenue totaled $196.3 million, net earnings were $9.5 million and there were 5,000 employees.
The name of the Company is changed from Standard Pressed Steel Co. to SPS Technologies, Inc.
1979 – SPS acquires Clay Bernard Systems International Ltd., a systems engineering and computer manufacturer of automated storage and retrieval systems. SPS acquires T.J. Brooks (Leicester) Ltd., UK, a manufacturer of high technology fastener products for the aerospace, automotive and industrial markets.
1982 -SPS closes CBSI’s Tulsa, OK, facility and consolidates operations into the Hatfield, PA facility.
1983 -SPS acquires GKN Socket Screws Limited.
1986 -SPS acquires Cannon-Muskegon Corporation, Muskegon, MI, a producer of superalloys for the precision investment casting and powdered metal industries; the automated storage and retrieval systems product line of Hartman Material Handling Systems Inc.; and Arnold Engineering Company, a producer of permanent and soft magnetic materials.
H. Thomas Hallowell is elected chairman emeritus; John Selby CEO; and Harry Wilkinson is elected president/COO.
1987 – The company sells the assets of the Hallowell shop furniture product line.
1988 – SPS opens aerospace fastener plant in Kearns, Utah.
SPS acquires National Technologies Corporation to expand in industrial tooling business.
The company adopts a plan to discontinue material handling operations and sells the assets of the Hartman Systems Division in 1989.
1989 – Tom Hallowell Jr. resigns as chairman emeritus, marking the end of the continuous presence of a Hallowell family member.
SPS sells the Unbrako Steel Company Ltd. in Sheffield, England.
1990 – SPS acquires Ferre Plana, S.A. a manufacturer of industrial fasteners in Barcelona, Spain, and opens a distribution center in Asia.
SPS consolidates production in several plants and closes the Mexico plant.
1992 – SPS acquires Plastiform Bonded Magnet Business and forms joint venture called National-Arnold Magnetics Company to produce soft magnetic tape-wound core products.
SPS downsizes Santa Ana, CA, facility and closes plant in Puerto Rico.
1993 – Charles Grigg succeeds Selby as chairman and CEO.
SPS suspends dividend payments to shareholders.
The Unbrako distribution operations in Europe are downsized.
1994 – SPS sells its Assembly Systems and Ferre Plana, its corporate headquarters and company aircraft, and cuts the workforce by 10%.
1995 – SPS acquires the Elastic Stop Nut Division (ESNA) of Harvard Industries Inc., an aerospace nut producer and increases ownership in Unbrako K.K. (Japan) and Metalac in Brazil.
1996 – SPS acquires Mecair Aerospace Industries Inc. in Pointe Claire, Canada, a manufacturer of aerospace fasteners and precision components.
SPS increases its capabilities in the magnetics segment through the acquisition of Flexmag Industries Inc. of Marietta, OH, and Swift Levick Magnets Ltd. of Derbyshire, UK.
SPS also entered into a joint venture in China with a 55% interest in Shanghai SPS Biao Wu Fasteners Co. Ltd.
Harry Wilkinson retires and Grigg adds president/COO duties to chairman/CEO.
1997 – SPS acquires Postkey, Ltd, a Nuneaton, England, manufacturer of cylindrical thread roll dies; Mohawk Europa Ltd., a specialty cutting tool manufacturer in Shannon, Ireland.
SPS forms the Precision Tool Group to create a global tool business providing precision consumable tools used for metal forming and cutting.
SPS acquires Greer Stop Nut Inc., Nashville, a manufacturer of nylon insert nuts; the Magnetic Products Group expands through the acquisition of the flexible bonded magnet business of RJF International Corporation and Magnetic Technologies Corporation, a manufacturer of subassemblies for the reprographics industry; buys Lake Erie Design Co., Inc., a manufacturer of ceramic cores for the investment casting.
1998 – SPS acquires specialty metal and alloy manufacturer Greenville Metals; cold-headed automotive fastener producer Terry Machine Company and high-speed tool & carbide products manufacturer Howell Penncraft, Inc.; hot-forged manufacturer Non-Ferrous Bolt & Mfg. Co.; and Chevron Aerospace Group Ltd, a manufacturer of precision components and machined metal products with three plants in the UK.
SPS forms a joint venture in China, Jade Magnetics, to support the growth of magnetic products customers in Asia.
1999 – SPS acquires NSS Technologies Inc., a producer of high precision cold-formed products.
John Thompson joins SPS as president and COO.
2000 – SPS purchases Avibank Mfg., Inc., which the company rates as its most significant acquisition. Avibank manufactures latches, fastening systems and other complex components, and its AVK Industrial Products division produces threaded inserts and other fastening system products.
SPS also acquires Dacar of Auxerre, France, which provides aerospace products similar to Chevron’s and metal forming die producer Ulma S.p.A. of Milan, Italy, giving SPS presence in Continental Europe.
Chevron Aerospace’s operations are relocated to a new plant in Nottingham and a London plant is closed.
2001 – SPS acquires aerospace distributor AAA Aircraft Supply; and investment casting blends manufacturers M. Argueso & Co., Inc. and J.F. McCaughin Co.
SPS reports record sales of $918 million, but the weak industrial environment and aerospace market require restructuring, including selling Lake Erie Design and closing four plants in Las Vegas, NV; Sevierville, TN; Kearns, UT; and Smethwick, UK.
2002 – Thompson is named CEO of SPS and Grigg remains chairman. SPS restructures, including closing its Coventry, UK plant.
2003 – At 100 years, SPS has 40 operating facilities in nine countries, 5,900 employees and a revenue base of over $800 million. ©2003/2010 Fastener Industry News

Scroll down for an interview with the SPS CEO on the next 100 Years.

2003 FIN ? CEO Thompson: Starting the Next 100 Years at SPS

Editor’s Note: The following FIN interview with CEO John Thompson took place prior to the announcement of the Precision Castparts acquisition of SPS Technologies.

August 19, 2003 FIN – What to expect from SPS Technologies Inc. as the fastener corporation starts its second hundred years: Reduced costs, more production in lower labor cost locations, more robots and a continued role in acquisitions and in aerospace production.

SPS is marking its 100th Anniversary during 2003 with a series of events, from ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in January to a party at the Paris Air Show and opening a museum at its Jenkintown, PA, plant.
In its 99th year, SPS named a new CEO – John Thompson – to lead it into its second century.
He is only the fifth CEO the company has had.
Thompson, who holds an MBA from Harvard, joined SPS in 1999 as president and COO.
He had been with BTR PLC – originally known as the British Tire & Rubber Company – for 24 years. BTR is now a diversified engineered products company traded on the London Stock Exchange. Thompson was chief executive of BTR’s U.S. holding company.

North Americans concerned about the exodus of manufacturing jobs to other continents will see more of the same, Thompson predicted.
“I don’t think there is any doubt that more of the industry is going to end up in lower labor cost areas,” Thompson told FIN. You can hire seven people in China for the price of health insurance for one person here. “It’s kind of sad in a way, but there is a certain inevitability to it,” Thompson reflected.

OEMs such as General Electric will want suppliers in China, Thompson pointed out.
GE has sent engineers there and when it begins manufacturing airplane engines in China, locally sourced parts will be necessary.

There are stumbling blocks to fasteners and other industries moving to China.
“There isn’t a well-developed law yet on intellectual property in China,” Thompson explained.
The aerospace industry has yielded higher margins in the past, but lowering costs is going to be an increasing issue, Thompson observed.
Though the aerospace industry has been on a down cycle and there will be price pressure, Thompson isn’t worried about its future. “A lot of people are flying from Point A to Point B,” he explained. “They are going to keep flying.”

• SPS won’t just rely on Asia. The corporation has been in South America for 50 years. “Brazil has excellent, low-cost labor, a good environment for fasteners, an existing market and the ability to export.”
Not all production will move to low labor cost countries. Certain parts will remain in the U.S. and U.K. In Jenkintown, SPS is already reducing labor costs with robots. Only one human is responsible for an operation that used to require many workers.
• The cost of producing a fastener is not the only factor in fastener costs, Thompson emphasized. The real issue is “bringing down the installed cost.”
Such products as AVK’s new blind threaded insert for attaching luggage racks to SUVs can make the end cost of a fastener less without moving production elsewhere. If a product saves installation costs, there is growth for the producer.
Good management also is a factor in locating production facilities, Thompson added.
Quality is not a problem. In China every foreman may soon have a college education. Some graduated in the U.S. and there is “very capable engineering talent.”
• SPS can grow through new markets. Aerospace has been focused more on the OEM and through distributors as a means to the aftermarket. New sales channels are opening to the aftermarket. Thompson described the situation as “more transparent.”
There is potential in working with customers on design and creating fastening systems rather than just designing a fastener.
• Expect more fastener acquisitions, Thompson forecast. Though acquisitions have slowed with the economy in the past few years, Thompson predicts the fastener industry will “continue to consolidate. You are seeing it all the time.”
He cited well-known names acquired in recent years: Fairchild, Huck/Alcoa, GFI of France and Hi-Shear. “We’re always looking,” Thompson said this spring about potential acquisitions.
• In the next century SPS will continue to develop in non-fastener areas, Thompson predicted. He noted the company’s growth in magnetics and manufacturer specialty materials. Wherever the growth potential is – consolidations, lower cost labor or working with customers to develop lower installed costs, “We’re going to be involved,” Thompson said of SPS’ future. ©2003/2010 Fastener Industry News

Related Links:

• SPS Technologies

• Precision Castparts

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