Founded in 1970 by T.A. and Elinor Parker, Pinson Valley Heat Treating Company opened their business in Alabama using T.A.’s 36 years of experience working at Chicago Bridge and Iron Company. The first work they took was stress relief welding, but they quickly expanded to offer other processes such as normalizing, annealing, water quenching, and straightening at elevated temperatures.
The Parker’s grandson, Don Hendry soon joined the company, working in the shops during the summer months while attending Auburn University. Hendry is now the CEO and has 35 years of on-the-job service in the heat-treating industry with his family business.
“The company initially had one batch furnace and that has expanded to eight large batch furnaces in the standard department,” said Benny Grissom, vice president of the company. “In 1991 we expanded to oil quenching, carburizing, atmosphere annealing by four integral quench furnaces with tempers in that department.”
Grissom knows the company well, starting in the standard department as a furnace helper while attending college. He obtained his bachelor’s degree, and later added an MBA. He then moved into sales and then served as sales manager for 15 years before being promoted to operations manager, and now vice president and general manager.
“About seven years ago, we moved into heat treating aluminum and now we have three large drop bottom furnaces for aluminum heat-treating. We can do the various mill specs of 2770 and 6088. To continue with more expansion, and to move into new services, a few years ago we opened our vacuum department where we heat treat tool steels, and offer cryogenic cold treating.
In the last year we added surface hardening, through flame hardening, because so many current customers had been requesting these services. “The company can now heat treat gears, spindles and shafts up to 15-feet long with many varying diameters in addition to offering straightening. “We’ve done gears that are 80-inches in diameter, five inches thick, that weigh up to 9,000 pounds. This gives us the ability to do large parts, as well as high volume small parts.” he said. “We listened to our customers when they asked for surface hardening solutions. They said they would love to have one source for their heat treating needs instead of using two or three vendors, so it was a smooth transition for them because we were already working with them on other heat treating issues. We wanted to expand inside our core business, and we thought flame hardening would accomplish that goal.” When we added the flame hardening we brought someone to the team with over 30 years of experience in the flame hardening industry, so we didn’t just get into this and try to learn it; we wanted to offer our customers the quality they expect and deserve.
Pinson Valley’s flame hardening work is mostly for gear manufacturers, general machining shops, fabricators, agricultural and military applications.
“Our customer base is generally in the Southeast, but we branch out a little further depending on the work,” Grissom said. “With the increase in manufacturing in the State of Alabama, that was part of the catalyst for us to expand our business into these new services. New suppliers would come to us with different needs or new needs and Don wanted to try to accommodate the heat-treating needs of the new manufacturers coming into the state. We knew we couldn’t do everything, but if they had a need for heat treating, he wanted to be able to provide that service.”
Among the services offered at the company’s sprawling 11-acre site are shot blasting, stress relief, vacuum heat treatment, oil quench and temper, water quench, aluminum solution treat and age, normalizing, solution annealing, precipitation hardening stress relieving, annealing, solution anneal, vacuum hardening, carburizing, oil quench and temper, straightening, surface hardening, flame hardening, as well as lab services for Brinell Hardness, Rockwell Hardness, Vickers Hardness, Knoop Hardness, Case Depth, Micro Structure and work with certified labs for any mechanical metallurgical testing required.
“We have furnaces up to 48 feet long and we’re a little different from most heat treaters in that most will have small equipment or some will focus on large parts,” Grissom said. “We really are kind of a hybrid because we have the large ovens, that will accommodate large parts, but we also do parts as small as a bleeder screw. We handle truckload quantity or one part at a time.
With 50,000-square-feet of space for the integral quench line and standard furnaces housed in an outside structure with overhead cranes on five acres of the property, along with the new flame hardening building a quarter mile down the road in a 10,000-square-foot facility, Grissom said the company has come a long way. “We now have 55 employees and run three shifts a day. “We’ve come a long way from the ten or twelve people when I started working here,” Grissom said. “I think the credit for our success goes to our CEO who is a good man with good values. Don has been here 35 years and this work is his passion. He’s not an absentee owner. He’s very active in all aspects of the business everyday.”
Delivering service that creates raving fan customers is in direct relation to how the company works to solve problems, according to Grissom. “You can call, email, submit a request for quote or just ask us for advice. We want to solve problems. A third of the calls each day aren’t about heat-treating, they are about problem solving. They want to know how to eliminate a problem or what steps they should take to get certain results on their parts before the heat treating process. Our biggest thing is we want to be the problem solvers and we think if we do that and do it in a fair way, our customers today will continue to be our customers tomorrow.”
The company is also currently integrating new infrastructure such as computers, software, tracking, and production control processes to increase the level of technology from instrumentation to operations.
“We are paperless now. Every job that runs through our system is scanned so customers can dial into our operational software and look at every piece of paper that comes with their job. They can look at orders, job cards, purchase orders, and in some cases they can even see pictures of their parts on the racks to see how they are loaded,” Grissom said. “By making it easy for our customers to see everything related to their job and making it easier for them to ask questions, we can solve a lot of problems throughout the process, and do it in a more efficient manner. ”
To learn more:
Call 205-681-8595 or go to www.pvht.com.