Corporate History

Kenneth L. Heins “knew [he] could make quality parts if given the chance.” As a journeyman tool and die maker, Heins was armed with the determination to fund and found KLH Industries, Inc. on July 1, 1987. Over the past twenty years, the KLH family has executed a commitment to excellence and improvement that turned a one-room shop into a one-stop shop.

Origins of One

Though KLH was created in July of ‘87, there was no EDM equipment until September of that year. Even then, one was a key number for the original location in Slinger, WI: one room, one computer, one machine, one full-time employee (Ken), and one part-time employee. Despite being powered entirely by word of mouth, growth was nearly effortless. In less than one year, KLH outgrew its brick and mortar skin.

Strip Mall Service

The business relocated in ‘88 into one section of a Hubertus strip mall, a move that doubled the square footage of the previous Slinger location. At that time the strip mall was home to an odd array of businesses: dry cleaning, movie rental, pizza delivery, flower arrangements, and now electrical discharge machining.

While some of these businesses fell on hard-times, KLH expanded into the adjacent area, doubling the square footage for the second time in company history. The expansion created the space necessary to house more wire EDM machines, but that created a new obstacle.

Early wire EDM machines gave off 42,000 BTU of heat, equivalent to a single 3.5-ton air conditioner. With seven wire machines giving off a combined 294,000 BTU of heat, KLH needed a controllable environment to continue to produce precision tolerances.

Full Service Machining Begins

In 1993, a facility was raised in Germantown that could accommodate the unique environment demanded by the wire EDM machines. In order to facilitate success, the company continued to expand and diversify into new avenues of manufacturing. Added in ‘96, waterjet cutting introduced hundreds of new materials. Waterjets pressurize water up to 1,000 times that of a garden house, slicing through materials as thick as 22 inches.

The advent of the waterjet, however, created new space concerns. KLH had once again outgrown its environment, and in ’97 expanded upon the Germantown location. In order to expand the full service that was demanded by customers, KLH added a CNC machining department in ’99.

The three departments (EDM/WJ/CNC) worked in sync to provide a service compliant with ISO 9001 quality management standards. The concept of an all-encompassing solution was engaging, and in 2003 the company seized an opportunity to purchase assets of a closed machining company and hire most of its intellectual capitol.

Stable Growth

The increased capacity was quickly utilized, as during this period KLH experienced average growth rates near 16%. In 2006, KLH made huge commitment to ensuring the quality of its services. KLH brought in on of the most accurate CMM inspection machines available, upgrading an average inspection room into a temperature-controlled quality lab.

By customer demand, KLH expanded machining capabilities to include CNC turning. Yet the company was not solely committed to working more. To satisfy the enlarged market, KLH made serious commitments to working smarter. In 2009, KLH invested over 2,300 hours of lean training to reduce waste company-wide.

The improvements were recognized nationally by Modern Machine Shop magazine, as well as by local peers. KLH was nominated for Wisconsin Manufacturer of the year for the first time in 2009, but has received three consecutive nominations altogether.

By receiving AS9100 certification in 2010, KLH began producing precision parts for the world’s leading aircraft and aerospace manufacturers. Less than a year later, KLH machined hardware related components for the International Space Station.

Second Facility

For the fifth time in its history, KLH doubled its manufacturing square footage in 2011. For only the first time, however, KLH began operating out of two buildings simultaneously.

The purchase of a second facility created breathing room for all of KLH’s departments, yet none more so than the CNC machining department, who’s usable area increased over 180%. The entire CNC department relocated to the new facility, to better house a growing department. 

History of Excellence

Today, KLH has doubled in square footage five times, serviced thousands of customers, and produced millions of parts. However, one remains a key number for KLH, as a one-stop shop for precision machining solutions.

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