CHAMBER VIEWS: NESMA dinner shows manufacturing is not dead

By Mike Nicastro

On Wednesday, Dec. 2 the New England Spring & Metal-stamping Association held its annual Holiday Dinner and Award Program. The Chamber has a long and cooperative relationship with NESMA and provides administrative and back office support for this very important organization that has been a presence in the region since 1956.

There were over 27 individual companies at the dinner that celebrated the camaraderie of the group and the numerous member companies which after generations are still in business and vital to the health of the region. The success and depth of this group despite these worst of times should make it clear that manufacturing is indeed still alive in the region.

Far too many times we hear that “manufacturing is dead” in the Central Connecticut area. Well, we will grant you that it may not be as large as it once was or have as many large companies remaining within its ranks but to say it is dead should remind us of Mark Twain’s words upon hearing the reports of his death, “reports of my death are premature at best.” There are challenges to be sure but the industry is very much alive.

During the evening three awards were given for the longest “Continuous Operations” recognition. The three companies receiving the award were D.R. Templeman Co., Peck Spring and Hardware Products Co.

D. R. Templeman Co. celebrating its 71st year in business is a manufacturer of precision springs used in the medical device, electronics, automotive, aerospace and hardware industries. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the company underwent two expansions at the East Main Street facility and in 1999, the company constructed and moved into its present facility at One Northwest Drive in Plainville.

Peck Spring, now 92 years in business began in the cellar of the home of D.C. Peck in 1917. A screw machine products division was started in 1924. During WWII, Peck Spring converted its production to support the war including parts for B-29 bomber carburetors, revolvers, sub-machine guns, and mortars. In May of 1998 MW Industries purchased Peck Spring as one of 14 operating units.

Hardware Products Co. the eldest of the group at 143 years of operation began, in 1866, as a vendor to the New England Textile Industry. It initially supplied motor mounts, pillow blocks, pulleys, shaft supports, and of course, springs. By the time the textile industry moved to Asia, Hardware Products’ market was more than 75 percent springs. And then in 1976 it cast off all other markets and became exclusively a spring manufacturer.

In addition three additional companies were recognized for having reached their 50th years of operation. They are Atlantic Precision Spring, Plymouth Spring and Radcliff Wire.

Atlantic Precision Spring, Inc. started in 1958, in the Sessions Clock Factory building in Forestville. The company grew quickly, making springs and fourslide parts, which enabled them to build the current facility located on Ronzo Road. Atlantic Precision Spring was one of the first companies in the area to obtain their ISO 9000 Certification back in 1996.

Plymouth Spring Company, Inc., located in Bristol is a manufacturer of compression springs, torsion springs, extension springs, four slide stampings and custom wire form parts and precision pins. The products are high quality and the customer base is comprised of both Fortune 500 companies and other manufacturing companies throughout the world.

Founded early in 1959 by Don Radcliff, Radcliff Wire has grown substantially, supplying customers in many industries to include: aerospace, automotive, medical, electronics, telecommunications, and consumer products. Radcliff Wire now supplies high quality special shaped wire made of steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, nickel silver, as well as a wide variety of unique alloys. The company is ISO 9001:2000 certified.

Lastly, NESMA honored two industry veterans and leaders. Those being Les Dayon of Dayon Manufacturing and Edward (Fred) Hirsch of Hamden Metals.

Les Dayon began his career in the spring industry in 1949 at Hardware City Spring Company in New Britain. In October of 2009 Les celebrated his 80th birthday. Les is still very much active in the day to day operations of Dayon Manufacturing.

Fred Hirsch worked for H. K. Porter before going to work for Techalloy. After 17 years Fred then looked to set up Hamden Metals. The company grew and needed more space. The purchase of their current location was completed in 1977 and even though he is retired it is not unusual for Fred to show up at customer making a delivery and checking in with them.

So as we can see the heart and soul of manufacturing is anything but dead and NESMA’s membership proves it. In order to keep telling these great stories and adding new chapters Connecticut must look to take the steps necessary not only protect these existing manufacturers but create incentives for a next generation of manufacturing entrepreneurs to not only fill the shoes of those now gone but put the industry back on a path to growth. Not an easy task but a necessary objective.

Michael Nicastro is the president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce serving Bristol, Burlington, Farmington, Plainville, Plymouth and Wolcott.