A company with roots extending to the Revolutionary War, Harsco Corporation has become a global player in providing a range of industrial services and products, from mill services to gas and fluid control technology. Join Lorie Greenspan as she traces the company’s history and learns about its promising future.
Harsco Corporation traces its roots to 1742, when Taylor-Wharton, a unit of the company since 1953, began operations as a High Bridge, N.J., iron forge. The company today is a diversified, multinational provider of market-leading industrial services and products that serve some of the world’s largest industries. With operations organized into three business segments – infrastructure, mill services and gas and fluid control – Harsco employs more than 18,700 people in 400 locations in 40 countries. Global operations extend from South America, to Europe to New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, the Far East and Europe.
Its mission is to achieve consistent, superior financial returns from operations complemented by targeted and prudent growth.
That growth has its roots in the American Revolution, when early products included cannon balls for George Washington’s Continental Army. Harsco’s predecessor companies built some of the country’s first oil tank cars for American railroads. Its high-strength manganese steel dredging buckets helped dig the Panama Canal. Expertise at pipe bending and coil making helped open the way to modern refrigeration and cooling. Company engineers also were involved in the development of seamless steel airplane propellers, and one plant even made custom gears for Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.
At the outset of the 20th century, Harsco established itself as an internationally recognized leader in the production of high-pressure gas cylinders, producing America’s first seamless gas cylinders. Later, the company began to produce a range of specialty steel products, precipitating a name change to Harrisburg Steel Corporation in 1935. Harrisburg Steel Corporation became “Harsco” in 1956, reflecting the company’s expansion into new products and markets as a diversified industrial organization. Now a $2.1 billion corporation, Harsco’s niche leadership in the infrastructure development, steel and metals, railway transportation, and gas and energy industries is reflected in the strength of its market-leading brands. All of Harsco’s operations command major market share and are recognized as the best known, best financed and most respected names in their disciplines.
In the infrastructure division, Harsco’s SGB Group and Patent Construction Systems are the world’s most complete, full-service providers of scaffolding, shoring, forming and other access solutions for major construction and industrial maintenance projects. Harsco Track Technologies is a global leader in providing services and equipment for the maintenance, repair and construction of railway track. IKG Industries manufactures an extensive line of industrial grating and Patterson-Kelly produces high-performance process industry and heat transfer products.
The company sees future growth in this segment from an increased product range, expanded international reach and market share gains and extended service capabilities, particularly in railway track equipment. Harsco is particularly aware of the fact that recovering and expanding economies will lead to more rail traffic and place a greater demand on track maintenance and repair.
Recently Harsco acquired Fairmont Tamper and Jackson product lines, drawing together new engineering technologies, international expertise, customized product development, complete service and greater product selection.
The Fairmont Tie Machinery line includes production tie exchangers, spot tie exchangers, Hy-Rail guide wheel attachments, tie pluggers, spike reclaimers, spike drivers and pullers and more. Tamper Contracting specializes in track renewal machines, new track construction machine, production grinding services, switch and crossing grinding services. Jackson Surfacing is a leader in the manufacture of a variety of surfacing equipment and track stabilizers.
Mill services; gasand fluid control
Harsco’s Heckett Multiserv is the world’s leading provider of specialized outsourced services to the international steel and metals industry, operating on its customers’ sites under long term renewable contracts.
“Our market leadership in outsourced mill services is playing an important role in addressing the difficult competitive issues faced by the worldwide steel and metals industry and makes us a value-adding partner to many of the industry’s largest and strongest customers,” says Derek C. Hathaway, chairman, president and CEO.
This group also is comprised of Reed Minerals, which processes high-quality industrial abrasives and roofing granules. In this segment, Harsco plans to continue to build upon its leadership as a strategic long-term partner and specialist knowledge provider to the metals industry.
The gas and fluid control group manufactures the world’s broadest range of high technology, internationally compliant tanks, cylinders and valves for the containment and control of pressurized gases. This segment also is the premier manufacturer of custom-designed, air-cooled heat exchangers for the natural gas industry and is a major supplier of industrial fittings and related products. Products include Taylor-Wharton cryogenic containers, high pressure cylinders and acetylene cylinders; American Welding and Tank propane tanks, Structural Composite Industries composite pressure vessels and structures; Sherwood valves and Superior refrigeration valves and accessories; Air-X-Changers heat exchangers and Capitol Manufacturing fittings and conduit.
Each Harsco operation maintains environmental management systems in compliance with environmental laws, regulations and generally-accepted “good management practices.” With a goal of continuous improvement, environmental performance is an important factor in the company’s management review process. All Harsco employees are encouraged to achieve the most effective use of energy and natural resources to support business operations. Preference is given to environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.
In addition, Harsco operations are expected to dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous waste in an environmentally responsible manner. Commercial hazardous waste facilities are inspected routinely to assure that the company uses only those maintaining compliance with acceptable standards.
By employing techniques that ensure responsibility and integrity, the company sees its future growth characterized by expanding opportunities, better operation balance and limited downside risk during economic difficulties. Says Hathaway. “Recent turbulence and volatility have not diminished our confidence in the company’s ability to take advantage of the improving economic environment that many predict is on the horizon.”