H&S Tool and Engineering was bursting at the seams at its former 10,000-square-foot spot on 994 Jefferson St., a building shared with Anderson Airmotive Products. So co-owners Karl Hetzler and Robert St. Pierre decided to purchase a 60,000-square-foot building on Airport Road in the Fall River Industrial Park that was owned by Marshall Tubing, a company mulling relocating out of the city.
Every business expansion has a story, but this one has three.
H&S Tool and Engineering was bursting at the seams at its former 10,000-square-foot spot on 994 Jefferson St., a building shared with Anderson Airmotive Products. So co-owners Karl Hetzler and Robert St. Pierre decided to purchase a 60,000-square-foot building on Airport Road in the Fall River Industrial Park that was owned by Marshall Tubing, a company mulling a relocation out of the city.
“Marshall Tubing had purchased the building from Jackson Tubing, but their focus was to move the business from here to Stoughton,” said Hetzler. “Of the 60,000 square feet, they kept 35,000 square feet, and they signed a five-year lease, which helped to keep all the jobs here in Fall River. It was very gratifying.”
Hetzler said the same thing happened with his former tenant on Jefferson Street, Anderson Airmotive, which had also been looking to expand. Anderson took the 10,000 square feet left behind by H & S for its expanding operation.
“These are three businesses that have benefited from this move, and Bob and I were the power brokers on getting Anderson to expand by coming here and Marshall to stay after securing the lease,” said Hetzler. “These are three manufacturing businesses that are now staying in the community at a time when manufacturing businesses are in desperate need, as are the jobs that come with them, three manufacturing businesses serving different sectors, paper tubes, airline parts and machine parts.”
With its new building 90 percent completed, Hetzler said H & S Tool officially moved the operation last week and has been up and running since. The company currently has 22 employees, including 15 machinists. Twelve of those workers came from Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School, where Hetzler is a 1978 graduate and chairman of the Diman School Committee. He said with the expansion, they are already looking for two more machinists, a CNC lathe operator and a CNC milling operator.
“In our five-year plan, we hope the expansion will push us to purchase additional equipment to increase our customer base and employees,” said Hetlzer. “We’re hoping to grow by another 10 machinists in the next three to five years.”
St. Pierre said they will also be hiring a quality control person for their newly built inspection room. Although the company is ISO 9001 compliant, St. Pierre said the new inspector will help them get through the process of becoming ISO 9001 certified.
“It will help to open up other doors for us with companies that require ISO certification,” said St. Pierre. “Many of them require certain ways tools are calibrated.”
“And we can also bid on jobs with companies that are overseas or from the military,” added Hetzler.
In addition to the 12 Diman machinists, Hetzler said many of the 20 subcontractors doing the work on the expansion project, including the architect, also came from Diman.
“This wasn’t by design. These were bidded jobs and it just turned out that way that the people we ultimately chose were Diman grads,” said Hetzler. “But we are lucky in this field that we have the people in this area that are qualified to do this kind of work. Not every business can say that.”
Hetzler said the key to the success of their business is in always having what a business needs on hand or being able to create the product in a flash.
“The biggest thing is we have a niche business of creating quality parts with short delivery times. The customers we are dealing with are looking for quick deliveries without having to carry a lot of stock themselves,” said Hetzler. “If the company wanted three things and we said we could produce it in three months, we wouldn’t get the job. But if we can do it in three weeks, we would.”
Hetzler said another advantage they have is that many of the industries they do business with — the energy sector, oil refineries, LNG and nuclear facilities — have not fallen on such tough financial times as other industries.
“We’ve seen no slowdown at all. In fact, last year was our best year ever as far as sales, and this year is off to a good start,” said Hetzler. He said the new building will allow future expansion if needed, though it will likely be a few years down the road. “If we grow more, we will need the whole building. But it’s a wonderful problem to have.”
E-mail Jay Pateakos at email@example.com.