National Standard – 100 years in Niles

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2007

By Staff
NILES – National Standard officially opened for business in Niles in 1907 as the National Cable and Manufacturing Company and the producer and marketer of scientific lightning protection cables.
In 1910, the company was approached by the tire industry, which was in the process of switching from solid tires to balloon style. The tire industry was looking for National to use its success in lightning protection products to manufacture a steel flat braid, which became known as tire bead. Like the automotive industry, National was poised to take off with new demand for its products and, 100 years later, the company is still going strong.
"What began 100 years ago, continues today," Kevin Walsh, Vice President and General Manager of National Standard's Niles operations said. "We have a company built on great employee support, strong brands and innovations desired by our customer base which we are in process of applying modern manufacturing techniques to develop a promising start to our next 100 years."
Since 2000, National Standard has been under the ownership of the Heico Wire Group and continues to be one of the top producers of weld wire, tire bead wire and other industrial wire products setting the standard for consistent product quality. Customers in such demanding fields as the automotive industry, metal buildings, agricultural and construction equipment manufacturing turn to National Standard for premium wire that meets the toughest of specifications.
"Like other manufacturing companies, we have to adapt our business to changes in market conditions due to foreign competition and consolidating distributor and end user bases. National Standard continues to deliver innovative solutions to the challenges before us in the market," Walsh said.
National Standard became the market leader in tire bead production by 1935 with over 95 percent market share. During the 1930s, the company also began to diversify its portfolio and soon found itself owning businesses that made items such as ornamental wire craft products, for example, lamps, vases, tire covers, waste baskets and fire screens.
In 1942, National Standard developed a stainless steel wire for magnetic sound recordings and quickly led the industry in recording wires.
In 1963, National Standard introduced a gas-cleaned stainless steel welding wire. Followed by an introduction of carbon based solid wire, National Standard was on its way to market leadership in the welding industry. Innovation was quick to follow with NS developing a distributor respooling program that provided the foundation from which to grow its welding business.
The early 1970s brought even more innovation from National Standard with the introduction of its Copper-Free weld wire. Improved feedability, reduced spatter and less smoke were just some of the results that copper-free users have realized. Customers who have a passion for weld quality and performance know that National Standard premium welding wires will reduce the total cost of their welding operations.
Today, National Standard remains committed to our distributor channel partners and continues to deliver welding solutions to our welding customer base.
Sales Team re-organized
National Standard is pleased to announce the reorganization of its sales team to enhance its market coverage, development of relationships and to address the requirements of its market share growth initiatives.
"When I joined National Standard, I was charged with returning this great company, with great brands and outstanding products to a new position of prominence in the market, the task ahead was not short on things to get done," Dave Eckert, Director of Sales and Marketing said.
New District Sales
Manager Team
National Standard is pleased to announce the appointments of the following District Sales Manager positions representing National Standard and our weld wire product lines. These additions are part of our sales team expansion initiative geared toward providing outstanding local sales support for our welding wire offering.
Mark Wesenberg of Livonia, has joined our team as District Sales Manager for the Michigan and Northern Ohio markets. He brings many years of welding experience and relationships having served with Miller Electric, ORS Nasco, and BOC Gases.
Phil Hensley of Franklin, Ind. has joined our team as District Sales Manager for Southern Ohio, Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois and the St. Louis markets. He brings significant welding experience and relationships to the team having served with Thermadyne, Prest-O-Lite and Hobart.
Darryl Fuhrman of Birmingham, Ala. is new District Sales Manager for Alabama, Miss. and Southern Louisiana markets.
He brings significant sales experience in the Alabama manufacturing market.
His aggressive selling style and ability to penetrate accounts will provide a solid foundation for our efforts in this market.
"All three of these individuals make outstanding additions to our sales team with specific knowledge of their local markets combined with a new aggressive selling approach," Eckert continued.
"We are in the process of rebuilding the National Standard sales team and these new team members are joining an organization that is committed to significant market share growth, innovative new product introductions and expansion of the markets we serve. It is an exciting time to join the National Standard team."
Jim Harbaugh retires
after 41 years
After 41 years with National Standard, Jim Harbaugh will be retiring on July 11 from the company he helped build as a leader in the solid welding wire market and reposition recently for continued growth and expansion.
Jim started his first job in the US Army and after being honorably discharged, he joined National Standard in the mill working the midnight shift on the stranding line. Over the years, he has served in several capacities including spooling operations, strategic accounts, district sales management, and most recently as the national sales manager for weld wire sales.
In 2006, Jim was asked by the leadership of the company to stay on as a new team of management was put into place and his expertise was required. He accepted and National Standard is on a path toward long-term success that includes the contributions of Jim as leader of the sales team.
"Jim has an incredible passion for the weld wire market and our industry," Eckert said. "The energy he brings to the game everyday is like few individuals that I have experienced."
Eckert went on to say about Jim, "he is a true leader, well respected by our customer base and leaves a solid legacy at National Standard that has touched the lives of many."
As an end of an era comes and a new one begins, Jim will be focusing his time with his wife Judy on enjoying their retirement years as they travel the country.
He will continue to serve National Standard in a part time training capacity for the next few years, continuing to share his passion and knowledge of solid wire with the customers and employees of the company. The company celebrates his accomplishments.
and extends the warmest of wishes to Jim and Judy.