Top 10 CNC Machining Service Company - 2020 Award
Kylan Hastreiter – November 23, 2020
MAN AND MACHINE: BUILDING A LASTING PARTNERSHIP
BY MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY INSIGHTS MAGAZINE
Walking, with a light spring in his step, down the hallway at Marshfield Senior High in Wisconsin, a much younger Ken Hastreiter was eager to share some exciting news with his metalworking teacher. He wanted to build a belt sander to sand knives, but the challenge was getting the various pulleys required to drive the belts. At that time, students were allowed to make knives in high school, and Hastreiter had made quite a few but were not allowed to use any of the school’s mechanical grinding capabilities, such as a pedestal grinder or a belt sander. By building his own belt sander from scratch, he was able to get around that rule and save time. The high school teacher had access to a kiln and, discerning Hastreiter’s genuine interest and enthusiasm, agreed to lend a helping hand in melting aluminum to make a sand casting and mold pulleys. Thereon, Hastreiter had to machine the pulleys and design the little apparatus for sanding all the knives faster.
Nevertheless, Hastreiter’s journey to receiving the associate degree did not start in the metalworking department. He enrolled for woodworking and had no access to metalworking from an academic standpoint. Yet, he spent all his free time in the high school’s machine shop, making various things. The metalworking teacher was impressed and coerced him to do a welding project, thereby effectively completing every metal working class project, Hastreiter was given an A on his transcript. The metal working instructor’s mentorship eventually led Hastreiter into enrolling in the Machine Tool Program at Mid-State Technical college where he finally landed a dream job in an aerospace company manufacturing fuel controls.
But the unique yet universal story of successful mentorship that surfaces the true potential of a student does not end here. In a few years, the same golden thread weaves yet another tale, one that is purpose-driven to create a bedrock of machining excellence, fruitful collaborations with the alma mater, and empowers youth and helps transform communities. All that and more spring from the genesis of Hastreiter Industries.
Turning a New Chapter
Picking up the thread of the original story, at about this time, Hastreiter got married and had to relocate to Ohio to be with his wife, Sondra. The latter was pursuing her master’s degree at the Case Western Reserve University. Prior to getting back to home turf two years later, Hastreiter was reevaluating his career options, when Sondra offered a career-changing suggestion, “Why don’t you start your own business?”
In 1988, Universal Tool and Machine (UTM) took wings with a single manual lathe, a Makino-LeBlond. They quickly grew the business to include a manual mill and a small team doing deburring work on aerospace parts. Two years later, when success came calling, Hastreiter, opening the door to innovation, purchased the first two-axis CNC lathe, which was very uncommon in the early nineties, especially for a job shop that size. Through the 90’s and early 2000’s, UTM continued to grow with the addition of more CNC lathes, which included live tooling and sub spindles, as well as CNC milling.
Fast forward to 2016. The second generation came on board. For many years, the family-owned machine shop, which occupied the basement of their house, was renamed as Hastreiter Industries and moved into a new 42,000 square feet facility to further support customer and industry demand. Currently, the ITAR registered company’s state-of-the-art machine shop boasts 3-axis and 5-axis mills and 2-axis and 4-axis turning centers with an Okuma 5-axis mill-turn machine soon to be installed. The state-of-the-art facility churns out a wide range of parts from even challenging to work with materials like heat resistant, superalloys such as titanium, Inconel, duplex stainless, Hastelloy, A286, MP35N and other exotic materials in the Monel family. “We have developed the ability to produce complex parts and short lead times, ranging from prototyping to medium and high-volume production,” states Hastreiter. Matching their progress in machining capabilities, the company runs a very tight ship with well-defined quality control mechanisms in place as the Hastreiter team believes in getting the product right the very first time.
Hastreiter recalls a particular instance when a supplier of castings came to them for machining a space-age metal casting of a difficult dimension, which was proving to be a challenging part to hold. The Hastreiter team came up with a process and a plan and created a fixturing system and custom tooling for machining and began to turn this part out in a very successful method. Unfortunately, problems cropped up, and because of the geometry of the part, it took a while to recognize that the issue lay with the casting. “We found ourselves not only working with the casting house, but also the end customer. We identified issues and made recommendations to not only increase the quality of the casting but also helped the customer to get parts in a much faster timeline,” remarks Hastreiter. The end customer, a first-tier aerospace company, visited their facility and, impressed with the results, decided to do business with them for other non-casted, machined parts directly.
We strive to be in a position where we are the most reliable link in our customer’s supply chain, assuring them of a worry-free supply chain
The expertise in machining underpinned with an innate focus on delivering the right product to specification, on time, and at a fair price, has invariably translated to long-term fruitful customer relationships. It comes as no surprise that Hastreiter Industries is the partner of choice for numerous organizations across aerospace, defense, energy, and industrial equipment segments.
SOLVING COMMON CHALLENGES
According to Hastreiter, one of the critical challenges for which customers seek answers is on the aspect of reliability. “We strive to be in a position where we are the most reliable link in our customer’s supply chain, assuring them of a worry-free supply chain,” affirms Hastreiter. And this is made possible because the company is innately focused on timely communication and transparency. In the event of an unforeseeable problem cropping up and delaying the product’s delivery, the Hastreiter team proactively communicates that to their clients while taking the necessary steps to mitigate the problem. The company prides itself on having great partners in an established supply chain for secondary operations such as heat treating and coatings, among others.
Hastreiter Industries also deftly tackles the all too common challenge of long lead times. As opposed to the industry lead times as far out as three to four months, the company maintains short lead times in the range of 2-6 weeks or less depending on the size of and complexity of the order, with three weeks being pretty standard, while offering the better than industry performance at a fair price. Hastreiter attributes this to being an employer of choice. Many shops cannot be in lockstep with their customer needs due to the shortage of finding the right talent. But Hastreiter Industries has forged strategic partnerships with several local K-12 schools as well as Mid-State Technical College and is strategically poised to attract and develop top tier talent to meet customer needs.
The company, in close collaboration with the Mid-State Technical College, has strategically developed four career pathways designed to fit different types of people based on their stage in life. The first avenue, youth apprenticeship, is a partnership between the state, the high school, and the business. In this mode, a junior or senior in a high school works part time while they take related classes in manufacturing. One youth apprentice, a junior named Sam, is taking his related coursework at the technical college. “This will help him to graduate from high school with half his degree done for the technical college where he is enrolled, which is phenomenal,” mentions Hastreiter. Youth apprenticeship typically rolls over into the second or third option for continued education and experience.
The second talent pipeline is a registered apprenticeship program. It is very similar to a youth apprenticeship but is for high school graduates. They work full time and go to classes at the technical college once every other week. While it is normally a 4-year program, one of Hastreiter Industries’ registered apprentices, also named Sam, has gotten half a year’s worth of credit for his previous youth apprenticeship at Hastreiter Industries. The third route is where student works part-time at the company while pursuing his degree. Two years later, he can become a full-time employee with a degree and experience that jump-starts his career. The fourth route for acquiring talent is on-the-job training for individuals who are well versed in other, related trades.
“The schools want to develop individuals that are industry ready but cannot do so unless there is a relationship with the industry,” highlights Hastreiter. “It is vital for businesses to get involved with their local technical college for a mutually beneficial journey.” The company is sponsoring the machine tool lab of Mid-State Technical College’s upcoming Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering Technology, and Apprenticeship Center at Stevens Point. The technical colleges in Wisconsin have very robust advisory committees for industry partnership programs. Hastreiter, who was the ‘Alumni of the Year’ of Mid-State Technical College last year and his son, Kylan Hastreiter, the vice president of Hastreiter Industries are on various advisory boards.
DEFINING SUCCESS IN A NEW LIGHT
The goal of Mid-State Technical College perfectly dovetails with Hastreiter’s vision to empower the youth and enable them to master their destiny. Years back, Ken and Sondra Hastreiter observed that scores of young people from challenged and underprivileged backgrounds lacked the required direction and discipline to succeed in life. This led to the incorporation of a non-profit organization called Shiloh Bound seven years ago, though are still in the process of fully launching. The aim was to transform young people, equip them with the right skills, guide and mentor them through a curriculum, and help them find the right job either at Hastreiter Industries or with any other business partner. They will soon be launching a makerspace, which will allow youth with limited opportunities to explore and experience the various technologies and fields such as machining, advanced manufacturing, engineering, CAD/CAM, electronics, software programming and more and find out what interests them, thereby providing students both opportunities and a new talent pipeline for Central Wisconsin and beyond.
However, it is not just extending community support and working with education partners that set them apart. Hastreiter Industries cares deeply for its employees and equips them with the right tools, technology, and training in a conducive environment that fosters growth. This motivates the employees to take care of their customers by delivering top-notch products, and happy customers invariably bring business.
We want to be contributors to our community and see better things tomorrow
To provide maximum value to customers, the company stays at the forefront of innovation in capacity, capability, or efficiency, especially in the 4.0 realm. In the next phase of the remarkable journey, the new facility is gearing for further expansion with an Okuma B-axis lathe. “We are in the process of a digital overhaul, including shop wide SPC gauges that will provide additional quality data and analytics such as in-process inspection and SPC data for operating CNC machines,” says Hastreiter. Future roadmap includes additional automation such as automatic coolant refills, Swiss machining, and metal 3D printing. This year has been earmarked for overhauling the shipping and the quality departments alongside building a new 1500 square foot state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled metrology lab.
“Our overarching vision is not so much growth for the business because we want to have a bigger business but because we want to impact people’s lives,” concludes Hastreiter. “We want to be contributors to our community and see better things tomorrow.”
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