At Hanover Wire Cloth, getting the bugs out takes on a whole new meaning. Lorie Russo explains the new focus of one of the most respected manufacturers in the wire-mesh industry.
Hanover Wire Cloth, a company that has built its reputation on the strength of its insect screening, is now in the process of refocusing its efforts into the filtration industry.Although the Hanover, Pa.-based company has seen steady growth in its industrial mesh products since its founding in 1903, Hanover Wire has been known more for its innovative products for the screen replacement market, such as Paw Proof insect screening. Says Richard Rinaldi, chief executive officer, “The new direction we are taking is going to change that perception. We’re an industrial weaver from fiberglass to aluminum to steel, but with the energy and petrochemical industries strengthening, we’ve decided to refocus our efforts into filtration mesh. We see that as a growing market.”
The goal of this redirection is to be a full-line supplier of industrial mesh products worldwide. While insect screening still represents a significant portion of total sales and will remain a constant and valuable business to the company, Hanover Wire has looked to capitalize on its strengths to look for new areas with real growth potential.
The first industrial weaver to receive the prestigious ISO 9002 certification, Hanover Wire has constructed a solid reputation since its founding on producing the toughest, most durable screening for windows and doors, along with a range of complementary products. It manufactures its line of metal screening products in a 250,000 square-foot facility on 6 acres. The company currently manufactures an array of products, and also provides 95 percent of the mesh used for lint filters made in the United States. Rinaldi says, “Our quality is our inroad. These days, it’s not necessarily better pricing that gets the job.”
Although insect screening has become a commodity in the United States market, it is a growing market overseas. Rinaldi says, “When you draw wire, you need to draw it very fine. We draw the finest wire in the world and with that skill, there are advantages to getting into a variety of filtration markets. To be as old as we are and to have staying power says volumes because our products can be used in different applications. Our goal is to find more markets for our woven products.”
Hanover Wire is accomplishing its mission to redirect its manufacturing operations into filtration in a number of ways. The first is through a major capital-expenditure program. This has been an ongoing plan that started in 1996 with the addition of the company’s first state-of-the-art steel annealing furnace. The furnace allowed Hanover Wire to produce the highest-quality and most consistent annealed mesh available. The first furnace neared capacity quickly, leading to the purchase in 1999 of a second furnace. Next was the installation of new heavy-duty industrial mesh looms, which greatly expanded the range of mesh sizes the company is capable of weaving. The company’s next scheduled project, slated for early spring 2002, is the addition of a new coating line to ensure that material moves smoothly through all phases of production.
Hanover Wire has not only focused capital to expand its role in this market, but has also put together an excellent team of professionals to service the needs of its growing customer base. The level of expertise ranges from highly skilled technical people to assist with the development and engineering of products, to an experienced scheduling team and an exceptional customer service staff.
Tradition in Weaving
Hanover Wire was founded as a segment of the American textile industry, the roots of which extend first to Massachusetts, then to Pennsylvania and New York. Insect screening, as Rinaldi points out, essentially involves a weaving process which is one of the earliest manufacturing processes in the country’s history. “The staying power of our product is that it’s credible and unique,” Rinaldi says.
Wire weaving got its start, very simply, when someone started playing around with metal instead of cotton screening to screen out unwanted particles in industrial products. Screens eventually became fixtures on windows, but the process continued to evolve. Eventually, the use of fiberglass – which can be processed and woven at half the cost of aluminum or steel – began to dominate, which made the screening more affordable in the construction of homes. Acquired by CCX, Inc., in 1945, Hanover Wire is one of four major U.S. competitors in its industry.
The company currently markets its Star Brand® insect screening to the do-it-yourself market for screen replacement through hardware cooperatives, warehouse distributors, mass merchandisers and home centers. Hanover Wire also sells a complete line of insect screening directly to manufacturers of doors, windows and screens. It sells industrial mesh products directly to manufacturers of liquid and air filtration products. Additionally, Hanover Wire uses its fine-wire capabilities to manufacture fine-wire aluminum products, which are sold directly to wire and cable manufacturers for use as braided shielding for fiber-optic cables.
Hanover Wire’s sister company, CCX Fiberglass Products Division, was established in July 1989, with the purchase of the former J.P. Stevens fiberglass weaving facility in Walterboro, S.C. The operation is a major producer of fiberglass insect screening and an established leader in woven fiberglass reinforcement mesh. The company’s reinforcement mesh products are used for concrete reinforcement, built-up roofing reinforcement and exterior insulation facing systems (EIFS). CCX Fiberglass also produces a complete line of fiberglass drywall tapes and accessory products marketed under the WallSpan® brand name.
In June 1991, the Hanover Wire Cloth Division and CCX Fiberglass Products Division were consolidated into a single profit center with manufacturing locations in Hanover and Walterboro. The objective was to improve operations by eliminating redundant overhead and by more clearly focusing management attention on building the company’s share of its key markets.
Says Rinaldi, the combination of Hanover Wire and CCX Fiberglass gave rise to a unified, multifaceted marketing program that has realized significant market share in the mesh- product marketplace. Hanover Wire has also combined the products manufactured at both facilities into one cohesive international sales department. The company’s export activities, which began in 1987, now include the sale of products to more than 50 countries. The company’s commitment to international trade and new product development will allow for continued growth down the road as well.
Engineering for the Future
Hanover Wire’s industrial mesh products can be found in lint filters, food strainers, fireplace screens and air-conditioning filters. The company services a range of different industries, including aerospace, air filtration, automotive, food processing, hydraulic filtration and oil/water separation. Hanover Wire manufactures woven support mesh in stainless steel, galvanized steel, bronze, aluminum and fiberglass.
“We are capable of weaving a broad range of mesh sizes and applying an extensive list of finishes,” says Rinaldi. “Our product development and engineering teams work closely with our customers to develop products to meet their exact specifications.” Meeting the challenges of this dynamic manufacturing industry through product development is an ongoing mission at Hanover Wire, Rinaldi says.
The company’s innovative engineering staff remains dedicated to designing high-value products and new technology that will perform better for each demanding application. By and large, Rinaldi stresses, the most crucial part of the manufacturing process – as the redirection of the company continues – is to be responsive to the customer.