Paulo Products has been in the heat-treating industry since 1943 and has become a distinctive company for its diverse capabilities and the benefits it offers its extensive customer base. Lorie Greenspan profiles this unique family-run business.
Paulo Products was founded in 1943 by the grandparents of the current owner and managers. The founders, Ben and Pauline Rassieur, shaped a company strong in family values and that heritage is continued with current President Ben Rassieur III and his brother, Executive Vice President Terry Rassieur.
“The way we were founded mirrors the fact that we are opportunity driven,” relates Jim Heman, vice president of sales and marketing. “What drove the start of the company in 1943 was that there was no commercial heat treating operations in St. Louis; they discovered there was a need for outsourced heat treating and started the first commercial heat treating operation in the area.” Business focused on automotive and, specifically because the United States was at war, aerospace applications. These form the core of the company’s production today, with automotive comprising 33 percent of sales and aerospace, 28 percent, with the rest involving general industrial applications.
Heat treating, brazing and finishing represents Paulo’s core competencies but heat treating remains the focus of the company’s business.
As it turns out, heat treating is at the core of a great many products, too, as the Heat Treating Society attests: “Practically nothing can be manufactured without heat treating, a process in which metal is heated and cooled under tight controls to improve its properties, performance and durability.”
Heat to treat
Heat treating can soften metal to improve formability. It can make parts harder, to improve strength or can put a hard surface on relatively soft components, to increase abrasion resistance. It can also create a corrosion-resistant skin, to protect parts that would otherwise corrode and toughen brittle products. Heat-treated parts are essential to the operation of automobiles, aircraft, spacecraft, computers and heavy equipment of every kind. Saws, axes, cutting tools, bearings, gears, axles, fasteners, camshafts and crankshafts all depend on heat treating. In the case of Paulo, the company works on components that involve strength or wear resistance, including suspension, transmission, and drive train parts that are sold to automotive suppliers.
According to the Heat Treating Society, heat treating adds about $15 billion per year in value to metal products by imparting specific properties that are required if parts are to function successfully. It is very closely linked to the manufacture of steel products: about 80 percent of heat treated parts are made of steel. These include steel mill output such as bar and tube, as well as parts that have been cast, forged, welded, machined, rolled, stamped, drawn or extruded.
At Paulo Products, each heat treating, brazing, or metal finishing cycle is precisely controlled to meet the company’s stringent quality requirements as well as industry standards.Advanced technological processing capability ensures exceptionally high quality results for each and every job. The company’s heat-treating services include continuous heat treating, batch
heat treating, austempering, pusher furnace, continuous hydrogen, vacuum heat treating, induction heat treating, and ferritic nitrocarburizing, all of which had distinctive value to a company’s parts.
Take, for example, Paulo’s cryogenic process that exposes product to cryogenic temperatures of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, whereupon certain desirable structural changes are induced in engineering materials commonly used in industrial applications. Deep cryogenic processing permanently refines the grain structure of metals and other materials. Paulo’s equipment utilizes the refrigeration capacity of liquid nitrogen in a batch process controlled by a microprocessor. This creates a metallurgically improved and stabilized product with a denser, smoother surface. Paulo performs cryogenic processing both by liquid immersion and by dry exposure to a deep cryogenic temperature of minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
Certified to succeed
Supplying 2,000 active customers, Paulo maintains five plants in three states, totaling 400,000 square feet. The locations include Willoughby, Ohio; Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tenn.; St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. Last July the company announced the purchase of the metal treating and brazing business of Bodycote Thermal Processing in St. Louis, which was Paulo’s largest competitor. “The sales increase was significant,” reports Heman.
Paulo is organized to integrate with any company’s production operation. The company is a single source for all heat treating, brazing and finishing needs and offers round-the-clock operations for prompt service and efficient processing. Paulo’s plants form a service network and provide same-day truck access and multi-plant backup for speed and dependability.
The St. Louis plant recently received registration to TS 16949:2002. St Louis is the third Paulo facility to receive TS accreditation along with Nashville and Murfreesboro. All three of Paulo’s TS plants have also received the preferred supplier Quality Award from Ford.
“In every market we serve we pride ourselves on having the best controlled and most productive equipment,” says Heman. “We have an engineering department created to improve equipment and processes. It’s common to have engineers on staff. Our engineers perform a specific job to improve equipment and processes.” Paulo’s engineers comprise 10 percent of the employee base and fill a number of functions in quality, production and management. In addition, Paulo’s team of metallurgists play an integral role in the success of its customers. They assist in the advance planning of a job in order to help develop the optimal process and increase product performance. Paulo metallurgists are further active in developing alternative processing sequences that may help to reduce manufacturing costs. They also develop process improvement tools for operations and they assist the company’s plants and customers in solving metallurgical problems.
Paulo’s process engineers work to further optimize both equipment and processes, and its project engineers design and build systems and equipment for both dedicated and general applications.
As Paulo Products seeks to advance its place in the industry, it realizes the inherent value in maintaining an uninterrupted flow of accurate, meaningful information “We’re very information oriented,” Heman stresses. This philosophy is based on the company’s own methodology program called Production Information Client Service System, or PICS, which tracks design and production and allows the company to build engineering models and capture vital information and translates to reduce variation in process. “We feel the system is the best in the industry – it keeps evolving,” Heman concludes.