Alloy Products Corp.
Leaders in Pressure Vessel Technology
Business View Magazine interviews Betsy Bear Hoff, President of Alloy Products Corp., for our series on Domestic Manufacturing and ASME Vessel Fabricators
From milk trucks, to oxygen cylinders for B-52 bombers, to custom and general-purpose pressure vessel design and fabrication, Alloy Products Corp. (APC) has consistently evolved and expanded its portfolio, facilities, and team to become a much-respected name in the industry. Celebrating its 90th anniversary in Sept. 2019, the Waukesha, Wisconsin manufacturer’s rich legacy as a family-owned-and-operated powerhouse continues to grow under strong fourth-generation leadership. The cumulative experiences of the past 90 years have made APC a business leader for some of the most challenging and complex applications in diverse industrial markets such as pharmaceutical, hygienic, semiconductor, chemical, and general industry.
“This milestone is a proud moment for all of us here at APC,” said Betsy Bear Hoff, current President of Alloy Products Corp. “My great-grandfather started this enterprise back in 1929, my grandfather and father continued to uphold and enhance his legacy, and now I have the good fortune to carry that torch. In doing so, I pledge to take the company further, exploring new horizons, shouldering together the responsibility to achieve unprecedented growth for the next 90 years.”
Walter Wachowitz Sr., started the company in Milwaukee in 1929, manufacturing milk trucks for the food and dairy industry. During World War II, the business continued its expansion and manufactured oxygen cylinders for B-52 bombers. In the 1940s and ‘50s, the company expanded into producing food and dairy fittings and valves. Walter Wachowitz Jr. provided new direction by introducing the production of ASME pressure vessels for various businesses across the nation, including Coca Cola for almost 30 years. Craig Bear Sr. was at the helm of the company from 1994 to 2009. Joe Vick was the President from 2009 to his retirement in 2017. And Betsy Bear Hoff, Waukesha South High School alumna, following in her father’s footsteps, began working in the family business at 18 years of age and became the company’s first female president on Jan. 1, 2017.
A leader in the fabrication of stainless steel and other high nickel alloys right from the get-go, today, Alloy Products Corp. is a world-class provider of stainless-steel tanks and pressure vessels that consistently meet or exceed the most rigorous industry standards. Portable pressure vessels or fixed pressure vessels manufactured by APC to ASME, CE and UN specifications are used in a variety of sanitary, industrial and general-purpose applications. The company dedicates its resources to comply with ISO 9001:2015 quality certification for producing trouble-free products and “to-spec” custom parts and components. The wide range of fabrication and machining services offered by APC cover the full spectrum from design to complete production, including metal stamping, electropolishing, waterjet metal cutting, seam welding and sheet rolling.
APC’s broad product range includes vessel sizes from 1.4 liters to 500 gallons with material thickness and weld quality beyond required specifications. The company’s operations are run from two large manufacturing plants of 180,000 sq. feet in Waukesha, Wisconsin that house state-of-the-art machine tools, welding equipment, and electropolishing facilities. While many businesses struggle hard to compete and survive, APC has not only stood the test of time, but continues its trajectory of growth to establish new industry standards. The company continuously invests in the latest manufacturing technologies and, in addition to their custom products, maintains a large inventory of ASME general purpose, portable, hygienic, and UN pressure vessels for quick delivery.
The unique work culture of helping, supporting, and training employees so they can perform to their full potential is paramount at APC; the significant role that its 90-plus employees play in the continued success and growth of the business has not gone unnoticed by the company. Indeed, the cohesive teamwork and bonds created during various team building activities have helped make APC a force to be reckoned with in their industry. Another notable example of ‘togetherness’ – through APC’s involvement in charitable causes, children’s events and other initiatives, the entire extended family of employees unite for a greater cause.
Betsy Bear Hoff has a unique perspective as a fourth-generation employee and a well-respected woman executive in a traditional male-centered industry. Bear Hoff is not only exceedingly proud of her heritage but also well versed in how to propel her family company forward. She notes, “Our primary revenue driver is stainless steel pressure vessels, that’s the only market we’re in right now, concentrating our focus on the pharmaceutical and the specialty chemicals markets. There are very few – maybe five – direct competitors in this market. And I think our commitment to quality and our great working relationships with customers are two big positives that really help us grow. With that in mind, we are looking at expanding our square footage in the not too distant future. The space we’re looking at is very close to us; within a two-block radius of our current location.”
As for the longer term future, Bear Hoff admits, “Top of my agenda would be sales growth. We’ve had record growth over the past five years and I’d like that to carry on. I would also like to continue getting the youth of today interested in manufacturing, again. There are some great jobs in the manufacturing sector that I think are being overlooked by many of today’s young people. At APC, one of the big things we’re doing to conquer the skilled labor shortage is looking at younger kids – 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th grades, not necessarily just those ready for graduation. And we’re partnering with the Waukesha County Business Alliance on their Schools for Skills program. They bring school-aged kids into manufacturing facilities to show them all the cool things about manufacturing and try to get them interested early on, so they can consider making that a career in their future.”
With a 90 year history of excellence, it’s no surprise that APC has a good number of long-term contracts with customers and vendors – several they’ve been dealing with over 30 years and those relationships are just as valuable, today. When it comes to reaching out to potential new customers, APC relies for the most part on their online presence. According to Bear Hoff, “We have a very effective website, in fact, we are number one on most of the search engines when people search for ASME pressure vessels. We have had record growth just using our website and ThomasNet.” (The Thomas Register of American Manufacturers, now ThomasNet, is an online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing in the US and Canada).
The cumulative experiences of the past 90 years have forged an outstanding legacy for Alloy Products Corp. as an industry leader. But, in the end, what it all boils down to is the people. “One of our biggest assets is that we’ve been a family-owned company for four generations,” says Bear Hoff, “and we continue to extend that family feeling out to our employees. We look at this as a family environment and we want to keep it that way in the future. That’s a good point for people looking into us for purchasing and also for someone who wants to work here. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of. Nine decades would never have been possible without the stellar employees we have had throughout the years and the continued support from our long-time customers.”
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AT A GLANCE
Alloy Products Corp.
What: Stainless-steel tanks and pressure vessel manufacturing company
Where: Waukesha, Wisconsin