TS: I recently had the opportunity to visit Wodin, Inc. during the North Coast Fastener Association plant tour you sponsored and was impressed. A lot of the attendees, which included many seasoned veterans, were not really aware of Wodin or its capabilities. Tell me a little bit about the history of Wodin.
KH: Sure! Wodin was founded in 1967. We were created to support the valve industry. The company started out with two small upset machines and manual machines. It was part of a larger corporation and then was spun off and sold to one sole owner.
TS: Is there anything unique about how you manufacture your products?
KH: Wodin uses upset forging equipment as our
main forging equipment we also do have some press machines. Our upset forging equipment go up to 8”
diameter bolts! We have custom made several pieces of equipment in our shop to
meet customer requirements. For the valve stem industry, we have created better
ways to manage the seat of the valve. Straightening long forgings is always an
issue. We have manual machines, but we are currently creating an automatic
straightener for items that have different diameters, where the press would
work off the centerline of the part. We run induction and gas furnaces
depending on the grade of steel to limit the scale and increase the pliability
of the steel. That gives us the ability to make extremely large products with
an upsetter tolerance and controlled grain flow. We have a knowledgeable staff
that researches the specification and reviews the best way to produce the
TS: What industries do you serve?
KH: We mainly service the military, oil and gas,
aerospace, OEM’s, Nuclear, commercial, and heavy truck industries.
TS: Your current title is “Vice President”, but during the NCFA tour it was clear that you are also heavily involved in quoting as well as operations. There are not many women who run manufacturing facilities. And I understand you are also in the process of buying the company. When will that sale be complete?
KH: We have a target date for the end of 2019.
TS: That’s an exciting development! Other than Wodin do you have any other previous Fastener industry experience?
KH: Yes, I worked for Textron Fastening Systems,
after they purchased Flexalloy. Now I believe it is called Facil. I was a
buyer, contract negotiator, and in sales for their structural division.
TS: What did that experience teach you?
KH: You can learn valuable lessons from anywhere
that you work. I learned the importance of working efficiently as a team member
in a demanding, high stress, fast pace environment. As a key team member, I
learned how to motivate others to achieve corporate goals. In addition, I
learned the importance relationships with vendors as well as customers, and how
to cultivate them both domestically and internationally.
TS: So now you are “all in” at Wodin! If someone asks you, “what exactly does Wodin do”, how do you respnd?
KH: Wodin is a hot and warm steel forging facility that also has full machining capabilities. For forging Wodin uses press machines and upsetters. We have a full-service machine shop that has CNC, Landis, roll threaders, drill presses, and several other pieces of equipment. We work in all grades of steel ranging from carbon to Inconel and everything in between.
TS: What is your product line? Are you a machine shop or do you have specific product lines that you promote?
KH: We sell an array of fasteners – hex bolts, double end studs, socket head cap
screws, nuts, and so much more. We do a lot of specials, especially parts that
require several processes.
TS: I know your company is ISO and AS certified and you also are certified to do nuclear parts. What is the most difficult thing about maintaining those certifications and serving those industries?
KH: You must always be on top of your quality.
Wodin has a very robust system in place and we are continually reviewing data
that has been gathered to improve our overall production and quality. We have
regular audits from outside companies as well as our internal audits. Several
great discussions come from these audits and we try to make continual improvement.
To work in a company like Wodin that serves so many different industries,
education is very important. For years I have made it a habit to take 15
minutes of my day either before or after work to learn something about the
industry we serve. Reading feeds the mind and then knowledge grows from there.
TS: What’s next for you and Wodin?
KH: If anyone ever feels that they have reached the top, they become too comfortable. I feel that there is always something new and always something to learn. My plan is that in several years Wodin will have internalized several outside services either through acquisitions or expansions of our own location. Also, to extend our capabilities with acquiring more equipment to expand and offer customers additional forging sizes. Once we have achieved this, we will look further to see what else can be achieved.
TS: So, clearly you are striving to learn new things. What have you learned along the way that has helped you in your current position? Or, let me say it this way…What mistakes have you made during your career and what did they teach you?
KH: Yes, we all make mistakes along the way. It really depends if you learn a lesson or if you keep repeating the same mistakes. I worked very hard for over a year negotiating with a specific Oil and Gas customer. There were a lot of technical questions, and we put a lot of work into understanding how to produce this specific part. In addition to the production side, I found it to be a good experience with relationship building. The product was a prototype, first item produced this way. There was a great deal of research and development put into the product. We were successful in making the product, but the R&D and initial development of the prototype took a lot longer than what we initially promised the client. After three years of development and making parts in production runs for the client, we lost the business to a competitor of ours. I felt that after we made the production parts, and had helped to engineer this product that it was a job that would never go away. We had become too comfortable with the relationship and errored in keeping up our communicative relationship. I learned you must work just as hard to keep a customer as you did winning that customer.
TS: That’s kind of a tough lesson. Thanks for sharing that one. One last question for you…In one word describe yourself?