From April issue 2019
Written and submitted by Bill Bryson
The Sousa Corp. was founded in 1963 when Norman W. Sousa, Sr. purchased the assets of The Bennett Metal Treating Company. Bennett Metal was founded by Mr. Bennett somewhere near the beginning of the 20th century. He was a unique and very industrious individual and was a one armed blacksmith. The company changed ownership to a Mr. John German who hired young Norman Sousa, Sr. in 1947. It didn’t take Norman, Sr. long before he learned the heat-treating business and he was promoted to Manager. Once again the Bennett Metal business was sold to new investor owners, Frederick H. Waterhouse, William J. Luby and Joseph B. Burns. Norman, Sr. ran the business and, knowing the customers, convinced the owners to improve the technology to keep pace with industry needs. In 1954 he implemented the purchase of a Dow integral quench furnace and from that step, the modernization began.
An impressive line of carburizing furnaces fill the left wall of the shop, while the right side wall is a wall of state-of-the-art vacuum furnaces.
The owners were just absentee, investment owners, who had other investment opportunities to attend to, so they put the business up for sale. Norman, Sr. saw his opportunity and decided to take out a loan to buy the business. In 1963 Norman was the proud owner of a heat treating business, and The Sousa Corp. was born. He immediately added a C.I. Hayes bright hardening furnace, and the antiquated oil fired carburizing furnaces were replaced with two L&N Homocarb furnaces.
Norm, Jr. joined the company in 1971 and in the late 70s a new addition was put on the building. The added space allowed a second, larger Dow integral quench furnace, and Dow tempering furnaces to be added. Next came the addition of two vacuum furnaces, the black oxide finishing line, a Cincinnati Sub Zero freezer, a metallurgical lab with a Tukon Microhardness tester and a Kevex X-Ray spectrometer, which rounded out the equipment upgrades. Since buying the business in 1993, Norman has continued to expand and modernize the business. Two additional larger and more sophisticated Seco Warwick vacuum furnaces were added. The hardness testers were all upgraded to digital hardness testers, some with automatic hardness conversion and automatic cylindrical work correction factors.
Norm Sousa, Jr. has been involved with the company for 43 years and now, third generation, Andrew, Amanda and Kate are stepping up to the plate.
The right hand vacuum furnace is the newest addition to the shop with more and more customers wanting the bright and shiny heat treatment for their needs.
In 2011 Sousa Investments LLC, comprised of Norman and his children, purchased a new facility in Newington, CT. The new building is much larger, over four times the size of the West Hartford location, and more modern. Over the course of the next year the business was moved piece by piece, until finally closing its doors in West Hartford. Although it was sad to see the end of an era in West Hartford, the tradition will carry on in the same spirit that Norman, Sr. intended.
Since moving, a brand new Surface Combustion integral quench carburizing and neutral hardening furnace was added that doubles the previous capacity. Also, a new black oxide line was installed that is safer and more environmentally friendly. All furnaces are now controlled by state of the art instrumentation with digital chart recorders.
Andrew Sousa standing by the digital chart recorder for the Surface Combustion furnace.
What Sousa Corp. does is process metal parts to improve their hardness, strength, ductility or formability. They serve commercial, defense, aerospace, medical and automotive industries to name a few, and are an approved heat treat source for numerous companies. The Sousa Corp is NADCAP accredited, the highest aerospace accreditation, for heat treating. They are ISO 9001:2000 and AS 9100 Registered.
They perform heat-treating and other metal processes on:
- Tool Steels
- Low and High Alloys
- Stainless Steel
- Nickel & Cobalt Alloys
- Copper, Brass and Bronze Alloys
- And More
Materials that Sousa Corp commonly processes, but are not limited to:
- Carbon & Low Carbon Steel
- Alloy Steel
- Martensitic Stainless Steels
- Austenitic Steels
- PH Stainless Steels
- Maraging Steel
- Tool Steels
- Ductile Iron
- Cast Iron
- Nickel Alloys
- Cobalt Alloys
Thermal Processes that Sousa Corp routinely use, but are not limited to:
- Aluminum Heat Treating (Stress Relieve & Age)
- Bright Annealing and Hardening
- Carbon Restoration
- Carburizing & Carbonitriding
- Stress Relieving
- Vacuum Hardening & High Pressure Quenching
- Vacuum Tempering & Annealing
- High Speed Steel & Exotic Alloy Hardening & Annealing
- Neutral Hardening
- Non-Ferrous Heat Treating
In addition to heat-treating, they do commercial black oxide processing on carbon steel parts. It provides a deep black oxide surface finish to AMS 2485 and commercial specifications. The black oxide line can handle 28″ X 28″ X 24″ high.
They also offer material ID type testing using a Thermo Niton X-ray Spectrometer, laboratory services, metallography and microhardness testing, consulting advice on material selection, design and processing.
The Sousa Corp. is a Bronze Member of the Center for Heat Treating Excellence (CHTE), an active member of the Metal Treating Institute (MTI), the Heat Treat Network (HTN), and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Many of the employees are members of several organizations, including the American Society of Materials (ASM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
The Sousa Corp. and its predecessors have been processing commercial, military and aircraft parts for over 100 years. They look forward to continued growth in services, and capabilities, to serve customers better as manufacturing changes at an ever increasing rate.