A leading manufacturer of heat exchanger technology, Blissfield Manufacturing Company (BMC) achieved its high ranking through a combination of stability, resiliency and creativity.
Stability is amply demonstrated by BMC’s 60-plus-year existence, which began when Orville Farver established the company in Blissfield, Mich., in 1946, as well as its strong family ties. The company is in its third generation of ownership: Herb Farver serves as chairman and chief executive officer, while Patrick Farver is president and chief operating officer. Further, throughout its history, the company has maintained long-standing relationships – extending as long as 30 and 40 years – with many of its customers.
As far as resiliency, the company displayed remarkable fortitude in 1959, the year when a dramatic industrial conflagration destroyed 80 percent of its then-existing factory. “After the fire, both employees and suppliers pulled together and continued producing and shipping products from makeshift surroundings,” relates Gary Patrone, BMC’s vice president of sales and marketing. “They never missed a delivery.”
That flexible, never-say-die spirit remains alive even today, Patrone reports. “A cooperative team spirit still permeates the entire organization,” he says, “and that has been one of the company’s keys to success. Employees at every level are committed, engaged and excited about our purpose and mission.”
Such enthusiasm is bolstered by the creativity engendered by the company’s intrinsic nature. “We’re unique in the sense that even though we have standard product lines, we’re actually structured more as a custom manufacturer,” Patrone points out. “While we have production lines, we’re not a strict production facility, where employees clock in and work on the line day-in and day-out.”
Indeed, creativity is encouraged. “All employees, at every level, have the opportunity to contribute to the creative side of the business,” say Patrone.
Standardization coupled with customization is evident in BMC’s eclectic product range that includes fluid heat exchangers, oil coolers, condensers, evaporators, and receiver tanks. “We work closely with customers to design products that meet their specific needs,” says Patrone.
Customization, he adds, varies from dimensional and assembly considerations to performance and structural requirements. Moreover, as a custom manufacturer, BMC quickly and easily combines expertise from several product areas to create specialty products based on customer requests, explains Patrone.
The company has leveraged its expertise in the area of steel heat exchangers and special hydrogen brazing technology to develop hydraulic oil coolers for the off-highway market, which includes large customers like Ingersoll-Rand, Caterpillar, John Deere and Case-New Holland, reports Patrone.
“We offer a unique process by incorporating a hydrogen brazing technology into what are some of the largest rolling hearth ovens in the industry,” explains Patrone.
But that isn’t quite as unique as how the ovens are actually utilized. “Such ovens are typically used for tempering and annealing purposes in most operations, but we use them for brazing complex joints in our steel heat exchanges,” says Patrone. “It’s a very tricky operation, but we’ve been doing it for many years and have become extremely skilled at it. Not everyone can do it.”
Further, BCM generates its own hydrogen atmosphere, instead of purchasing hydrogen in tanks. “That’s one of our special core technologies,” Patrone points out.
Along with oil coolers, receiver tanks, compressors, condensers and copper-tube aluminum fin products, BMC has a strong focus on automotive products. These involve power steering and transmission cooling systems for light truck and passenger car applications. “We are the leader in the steel power steering and hydraulic cooler market, with more than 60 million units sold,” reports Patrone.
Here, creativity and resiliency again come to the fore. “Servicing that customer base requires continually changing designs and capacity requirements,” Patrone says. “Typically, this would create production issues for factory operations. But we’ve been doing this for a long time, so we’re no strangers to quick change. For instance, in the automobile industry in general, platforms can change as quickly as every three years. Cooler requirements can change just as often.”
BMC’s Blissfield site also distributes compressor products produced by Dorin, an international company headquartered in Italy. One of Dorin’s latest products involves CQ technology (CO2 qualified), an emerging refrigerant in the HVACR industry. “Dorin leads the world in reciprocating compressors exclusively designed to operate with CO2 refrigerant in transcritical applications, which is an important designation, as it involves higher operating pressures and temperatures,” says Patrone.
BMC currently distributes Dorin compressor products primarily in North and South America, although the reach has extended into other countries.
As the company forges ahead, Patrone sees continued organic growth in the oil cooler markets, as well as further expansion in the HVACR markets with new products and product extensions. In addition, the company anticipates additional expansion through more international alliances (besides Dorin, it has aligned itself with companies in India and China) which will takes its growth beyond the internal and organic.