‘Yeah, We Can Make That’

New Hampshire Industries

Look up New Hampshire Industries’ (NHI) capabilities on the company’s website and you will see a catchphrase that describes them perfectly: “Yeah, we can make that.”

This team delivers a solution for just about anything. Key capabilities such as stamping, machining, injection molding, and custom assembly give the company the ability to custom manufacture products for a vast array of industries. From aerospace, automotive aftermarket, and material handling to outdoor power equipment, agriculture, and construction equipment, NHI is the answer.

NHI has grown from humble beginnings to become the custom engineering and manufacturing powerhouse it is today. Sixty years ago, the company got its start in a garage. Soon, the team snagged a coveted job making pulleys for a major customer; decades later, the relationship continues. “They’re still our biggest customer,” says NHI President John Batten.

The company’s capabilities grew along with its customer base. “It was a small operation that continued to grow through the years by adding on bigger and bigger customers and more and more automation,” says Batten. The company also grew via acquisitions, added a product line in the 1990s that spurred considerable expansion, then started its own global supply chain in the early 2000s “to take over control of our own component purchasing so we weren’t doing it through distribution.” Most recently, NHI bought a competitor in Wisconsin and another in Chicago and has consolidated their combined capabilities under one roof in Claremont, New Hampshire.

The new facility has been a huge boon to the company, with the team maximizing the available space to make the entire operation more efficient. Now, there is no wasted travel or material handling – every aspect of production is where it needs to be. “It’s about increasing the capacity to get more through the plant with the same amount of people,” Batten explains. “We have one consolidated site with all of our resources integrated here. We have a lot under one roof.”

A combination of engineering and customer support sets the company apart. By working closely with the customer, the innovative engineering team helps launch a product, from concept to production, that will meet the customer’s application demands. “All of our customers [are] different,” says Zachary Kerin, NHI’s Vice President of Sales, Marketing, & Engineering. “They all have unique challenges and I think that we do a really good job of integrating with their supply chain teams and their engineering teams, and really finding out how we can develop a solution(s) that solve those unique challenges that they’re facing.”

NHI also develops some of its own products to sell directly into the market. “We do engineer our own products, where we integrate what we think is lacking in the current product offering into the market,” Batten says. Whether they develop a product for a customer or for the market at large, the team relies on consumer feedback to make “continual product improvement to extend product life,” says Kerin.

Automation is another key capability that the company has cultivated as a foundational aspect of production. “A lot of the automation that we had over the years really started with some very good industrial engineering at the beginning, when the equipment was created,” Batten explains. Rather than relying on robotics, NHI’s automation “maximizes the effectiveness of the human resource,” he says. “They watch the machine produce the part. They make sure the quality is good. They troubleshoot any issues and they make sure that they are moving it on to the next operation. Our automation is not to replace a human being; it is to improve their efficiency.”

The team understands the importance of diversification and is on the leading edge when it comes to launching new products and product lines. They monitor industries closely and have recognized a lot of recent growth, particularly in material handling. “We’ve got some new, innovative products that will be coming out this year specifically for the material handling industry,” Kerin says. The overall goal is to bring “performance improvements to the marketplace.” But improvements are not enough; the product has to be affordable as well as effective in order to sell. “We are also extremely competitive with our price point and the value the product brings,” says Kerin.

While the team certainly emphasizes value, as an American manufacturer NHI simply cannot beat every price but can offer competitiveness with total value. They more than make up for this through their service offerings, particularly that “engineered approach to helping our customers solve their issues,” Batten says. “Being a U.S. manufacturer, we’re not going to be the lowest cost product competing against China or other low cost countries,” he shares. “But we offer things that they can’t do, like the ability to have engineering support at a moment’s notice, fly the engineer out, help resolve their issues, solve it and then apply that to a product design or change.” This expertize is crucial – and so is the attitude that comes with it. The company’s dedication goes beyond the technical, and the team is “passionate about how we help our customers and how we support our customers,” says Batten.

The team is eager to offer this support to even more customers. “We want to continue to grow,” Batten says. “Our goal is to go out and take what’s made us successful thus far and apply it to other customers in similar industries or in different industries that have the same or similar needs.”

From lean manufacturing to in-house engineering expertise, the components for future growth are already in place. “There’s a lot of expertise that has been built up over the years all the way through the operation,” Batten says. The next step is “applying that to grow and expand to other industries.

With such a solid foundation, the future is wide open. “I’m happy with the twenty five years I’ve had here,” Batten says. “I’ve seen the growth and development. It is a great company that started with a great base, and we’re just building up and now it’s time to really, really expand from here. We want to be ten times the size we are today; that’s our goal. We don’t want to be just slightly bigger; we think we really have a value to offer these industries and that’s what we want to do.”

Kerin agrees. “We have a really successful track record in the markets that we currently serve and with our current customers, so we have a very good platform to build off of,” he says. “We are starting to move into new markets and industries and are seeing similar successes.” He points out that each market has different product types and different challenges, “but I think that we have a very solid team here that is more than capable of delivering the customizable value, innovative products and solutions and world class support that we are known for.”

In the meantime, the team has their sixtieth anniversary to celebrate. NHI throws a fall banquet every year for all its employees and, with six decades of teamwork under their belt, this year’s party will enjoy a special significance. As always, the company will invite retirees, some with forty-plus years of service at NHI. This year, the entire NHI family can raise a glass together to their decades of customer support and innovation as well as to a bright future filled with the promise of an exciting expansion into new products and industries.

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August 15, 2020, 6:13 AM EDT