Q&A with Jerry Hendrickson

Sales Manager, Willman Industries


Give us a little background information on the company.

Our president, Clay Willman, purchased the company from Medallist, Inc., in 1987. Prior to that it was called State Foundry, and it was owned by a man named Ed State. But there’s been a foundry on this site for nearly 100 years. We currently have 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and we employ approximately 150 people.

How long have you been with the company, and what are your responsibilities?

I joined the company in 1978, so I’ve been here for 27 years. As vice president of sales I oversee the efforts of our in-house sales staff, which probably handles about 90 percent of our business, with the remaining 10 percent generated by outside sales representatives who are found in strategic locations around the country.

Who are your customers, and where are they found?

We work with Caterpillar and the Trane Company, just to name a couple, and even though most of our product is sold domestically, it ultimately finds its way into equipment that’s in use all around the globe. The markets we serve include everything from agriculture to automotive, construction, diesel, energy, machine tools, marine, mining, oil and gas, paper and printing, power transmission, the railroad industry–just a very broad range of manufacturing and service industries. And our envelope of capabilities is also quite broad when it comes to sizes, encompassing everything from a casting weight range from one pound to 30,000 pounds.

We make most grades of gray iron, ductile iron, austempered ductile iron, high-silicon iron for high-temperature applications such as exhaust manifolds, and we’re also a meehanite-licensed foundry. We’ve received the Meehanite MAC 2000 Quality Award for Excellence, in fact, which is quite an accomplishment in our industry. As for gear manufacturers, we work with quite a few, including Avon Gear, Brad Foote Gear, Milwaukee Gear, and Morris Materials, and we make planetary housings for companies like Caterpillar Tractor, Rexnord, Industrial Motion Controls, and Twin Disc.

Sounds like you’re quite diversified, in terms of your capabilities and customer base.

That’s true, especially in terms of how our business is distributed. As an example, if we use 150 as the number of active customers we have, our top 10 customers probably represent 50 percent of our business, but no one customer has more than 20 percent of our business. So from that standpoint, yes, we’re well diversified across industry segments and across the larger customer base.

What would you say Willman Industries is best known for, in terms of its reputation?

I think we’re known for the quality of our products and the service we provide to our customers. While there are always price pressures to be dealt with, having a reputation for quality and service strengthens our case in competitive bidding situations. And the precision of the parts we manufacture has helped bring in business when other foundries have not been able to meet the customer’s requirements. In fact, even though we’re a jobbing foundry and often work directly from the plans that our customers provide, we also have an engineering department that can help develop casting designs that lead to a nearer net-shape product. And not only does that result in a better product, it can provide significant cost savings as well.

MORE INFO: To learn more about Willman Industries, Inc., which is based in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, call (920) 668-8526. Send e-mail to jhendrickson@willmanind.com, or go online to www.willmanind.com.