HORST Engineering: Advancing Manufacturing Since 1946
This month we sat down with the folks over at HORST Engineering out of Hartford, Connecticut and asked them all the hard questions that would best place their company in the spotlight. The following is the fruit of that conversation. Please join us in learning about all the fascinating work HORST Engineering has been producing since their inception in 1946.
What types of industries to you typically serve on a day to day basis?
- Aerospace: Commercial and Defense
- Defense: Naval, Ordinance, and Ground Based Systems
- Medical Devices
- Power Generation
- Bicycling Industry
- Other High Technology Industries that require Advanced Manufacturing
“The HORST commitment to sustainability couldn’t be more in sync with our own. Pratt & Whitney’s vision is to be the best aerospace company for the world. And we do that, in part, through supporting our suppliers’ sustainability efforts. HORST demonstrates an aviation manufacturing philosophy that includes sustainability to support business goals while helping reduce the environmental footprint.”
– Lisa Szewczul, Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety, Pratt & Whitney
Please, fill us in on the history of HORST Engineering:
We are a 3rd generation company going into our 75th year. Our company was founded in 1946 by Harry Horst Livingston, whose birth name was Horst Rolf Liebenstein. He was born in Bad Liebenstein, Germany in 1912. His parents were business owners (retail grocers). He was the middle of two brothers.
Mr. Livingston graduated from the Technische Universität Ilmenau with a Masters of Mechanical Engineering. During his school years, he also worked in various factories, including one in the bicycle industry, where he honed his metalworking skills.
He immigrated at Ellis Island in October 1938 and moved to Hartford where he met, and married Sylvia Hurwitz . He then worked at a variety of manufacturing companies, including Whitney Chain Company, Johns-Hartford Tool Company, Colts Manufacturing Company, Barridan Oil Burner Company, and The Wiremold Company.
He established Horst Engineering and Manufacturing Co. on the second story of a barn at 602 Garden Street in 1946. We offered engineering services, and tool and die making services. In 1950, we moved to a new factory at 36 Cedar Street in East Hartford.
We expanded from the 1960’s through the 1990’s under the leadership of Harry’s sons, Steven and Stanley, and daughter-in-law Adeline. The Livingston Family expanded our business in phases helped by acquisitions including the assets of Egan Machine Company, Crystal Precision, and Sterling Machine.
Our current owner is 3rd generation President & CEO – Scott Livingston. He has worked at our company since 1995 and has been in his current role since 2001. He is part of our Senior Leadership Team that includes several key non-family managers and collectively they are responsible for all aspects of business strategy and operations.
What is HORST Engineering’s operative offerings? What do you do?
We are a contract manufacturer of precision machined components for aerospace and other high technology industries. For more than seventy years we have manufactured components that keep aircraft flying.
We use advanced manufacturing processes to produce the highest quality precision machined components. Our core processes include Swiss screw machining, turning, milling, thread rolling, grinding, and assembly. Our core product families include parts that are typically less than 8.00 inch diameter or cube, and our sweet spot is 3.00 inches and smaller.
Round bar stock is our most common material shape but we also work with shaped bar, tubing, extrusions, plate, and small castings. Core product families include pins, fasteners, sleeves, bushings, washers, valve bodies, and a wide range of other custom components. When we manufacture complete, we source the raw material, perform all required manufacturing processes, and manage the supply chain logistics associated with special processes including heat treatment, coatings, and testing. Many of our parts have significant high value special processes and we use approved sources.
We produce a very high mix of parts (up to 3,000 active unique part numbers) in relatively low quantities that vary from 10 pieces to 5,000 pieces.. Lead times depend on the part family and special processing requirements, but range from four weeks to 20 weeks.
In addition to the parts that we manufacturer complete, our thread rolling business unit provides value-added thread rolling, knurling, and grinding (centerless and cylindrical) services to customer through the USA and Canada. This work is done on customer supplied product, and typically takes a week or two depending on the requirements.
Is there a specific industry you’d like to reach?
Our primary focus is on the aerospace and defense industries, but we do some work for medical, power generation, motorsports, and the bicycling industry. This includes our thread rolling business as high strength threads and high quality knurls are used in a variety of industries. We are always trying to reach customers in industries that require precision machining and forming, and especially those that have requirements for difficult to machine materials.
How have your internal processes improved over the years?
We have an in-house Lean Team led by a full-time lean coordinator. We are constantly driving improvements through kaizen and other lean enterprise tools. We also invest in the latest technology. This means that we have fantastic CNC equipment, support systems, and a modern ERP system.
What are some things you’re most proud of in the company’s history?
Over 75 years, we have been honored on many occasions. We are most proud of the recognition we have received for our quality, our family business success, and our responsible business practices. In 2019, we were the recipients of Pratt & Whitney’s Supplier Sustainability Award. This is one of their highest supplier honors. The award was presented to us at their Global Supplier Conference.
Pratt & Whitney presents this award annually to recognize a supplier for their dedication to environmental sustainability.
Do you offer any special/unique services potential customers should know about?
We are unique in that we work with an incredibly wide range of materials. We cut and form the most difficult metals including stainless steel, aluminum, high temperature alloys (including Inconel, Stellite, Waspaloy, A286, L605 etc.), titanium, and red metals (copper, brass, etc.). We also work with advanced polymers including Vespel, Celazole, Rulon, Nylon, and other non-metallic materials including carbide and carbon.
Our thread rolling capabilities are well known and we form the highest quality threads in industry. We have an in-house metallurgical laboratory to check for thread defects and we maintain many industry and customer approvals for our threading processes. Rolled threads are superior to cut or ground threads in many ways. One example is that a rolled thread on heat treated metal can be 5X as strong as a cut thread. Our “How It Works” thread rolling white paper is a great resource.
We are full-service supplier for our key customers and supply complete products that require the outsourcing of heat treatments, coatings, and testing. We work with a large supplier base that operates as an eco-system on behalf of our largest customers.
QUALITY, QUANTITY & QUOTING:
“We Lift You Up!”
We help people fly safely and keep our communities strong by making precision parts in the USA.
Team HORST – We work together to achieve our common goals and make individual sacrifices to help the company win. We tell it like it is and don’t let our peers fail.
Responsiveness – We respond to requests promptly and proactively and genuinely want our customers to succeed.
Precision – Get it right the first time. Measure twice, cut once. We work to prevent problems before they happen.
Skillfulness – We use lean enterprise to continuously improve processes. We keep learning.
Perseverance – Our people develop new ideas and suggestions in the face of obstacles. Overcome roadblocks to achieve the necessary results.
Can you describe your quality control program?
We have an AS9100/ISO9000 registered Quality Management System.
What is the company’s geographic service area?
We work with a wide variety of customers all over the world. Nearly a third of our product is exported. We work with several of the largest OEM aerospace customers and also support their supply chains globally. Many of our thread rolling customers are peer shops within the northeast region of the USA, but we have small and mid-sized customers all over the country and Canada.
In parting, do you have any exciting new projects on the horizon?
In 2019, we acquired a 48 year old industrial building in East Hartford, CT and are in the midst of a multi-year renovation of the plant site – converting it to a state-of-the-art facility. In 2021 we will consolidate our three CT locations under this one roof. The building is being renovated with sustainability in mind and will more than double our footprint with even more future expansion opportunities so that we can grow again as the economy recovers. This fantastic project will result in a factory that will help us recruit and retain our future skilled workforce. We have many partnerships with community and technical colleges and are active with manufacturing skills development. As we approach our 75th year, we are excited about the future.