Trinity Forge: Growth Through Full Service
It used to be farmland. But today, in Mansfield, Texas, there sits a small industrial park where crops were once grown and farm animals once grazed. Trinity Forge is part of this industrial park, having moved to its present location 35 years ago, transforming what was once a center of agriculture into a center of manufacturing.
Today, from its modest beginnings, Trinity has grown into a company with annual sales volume in the $35-40 million range. Its primary market is supplying the oil patch with some of the hardware it needs to seek and recover oil and natural gas. And with crude oil and gas prices at record levels, you can bet the company’s been very busy of late.
The company’s motto is “Value, Service & Integrity.” At all times, the company is honest and forthright with its customers, recognizing that it is its duty to fulfill customer requirements in a timely manner with a quality product. It is this true dedication to customers that has ensured Trinity’s success, recognizing that if they help their customers succeed in their businesses, Trinity will grow as well.
“Our best forging salesmen are actually our own clients,” said Dennis Withers, Trinity’s CEO. “We couldn’t do a better job of selling our products than our own customers do for us once they receive shipments from our shop.”
HistoryFifty-three years ago, Trinity Forge Inc. was founded by Wade Forman and Harry Withers in Hurst, Texas. The founders had a strong desire to create a company that focused on serving the customer’s needs. The company started with board drop hammers that were common in the 1950s and 1960s. Initially, the largest part that Trinity could produce was 10 pounds. In the 1960s, the company added equipment capable of producing 20-pound forgings. This growth in maximum part size has continued to the current part capacity of 100 pounds. The company’s current equipment is characterized by its state-of-the-art Lasco hydraulic hammers manufactured in Germany.
In the company’s infancy, it produced forgings only from carbon and alloy steel. From that beginning, it has developed the capability of forging many more materials including various stainless steel grades, Monel, Inconel, PH steels, micro-alloys, bronze and titanium.
In 1973, Trinity Forge moved to Mansfield, Texas. It was about that time that the company started producing valve forgings for nuclear plants, which was the beginning of the company’s formal quality systems. Since those days, it has continued to develop its quality systems, a move that helped Trinity diversify into other markets.
On its evolutionary road to a full-service forge shop, Trinity created a machine shop in the 1960s that originally produced spare parts required for board hammers. Since then, the shop has evolved into an extremely modern machining facility that machines forgings, does machining work for other accounts and produces dies and tooling. All of the major machining equipment is replaced on a five-year cycle, ensuring that Trinity Forge’s machining capabilities are second to none.
Forging Processes, Equipment and QualityWith the passage of time, any manufacturing company must invest in new equipment to retain its competitive edge. At one time, Trinity Forge ran 11 hammers and heated billets mostly in gas furnaces. Today, the company runs only eight hammers – six accompanied by induction-heating furnaces – with a combined production capacity that is significantly higher than the 11 old units. The company operates one Number 8 Die Forger, one Model E 6,000-pound CECO, and six Lasco hammers, three of which are the HO-U models. Hammer sizes range in ram weight from 2,000 to 13,000 pounds. Parts produced range from a few ounces to 100 pounds. Metals forged include carbon steel, alloy steels, high-temperature steels, stainless steel, Inconel, Monel and titanium.
Manufactured parts are produced in accordance with ISO 9000 (since 1993) and AS 9100 (since 2002) quality certifications. In fact, Trinity was one of the first commercial forge shops in the United States to receive ISO-9000 certification. These certifications were received as a precursor to Trinity’s entry into the aerospace market, in which the company is now active.
The company has continued to invest in the latest equipment technologies, quality controls and quality measurement capability. The company’s management and associates are committed to exceeding client expectations of service and in the execution of their part specifications. The plant uses frequent quality-control inspections and statistical controls to monitor forging processes and workflow, ensuring consistency and quality throughout the production run.
Machining, Die Making and Other ServicesTrinity is no exception to the trend among forging companies to perform additional value-added services for their customers. Machining is the most common of these, and the company operates a significant machining division on site dedicated to the value-added machining of forgings or commercial machining jobs for non-forging customers. The company operates six – four horizontal and two vertical – machining centers from Makino and Mazak. Additionally, five turning machines from Mazak and Daewoo are also in operation. The company’s average machine age is three years, allowing it to maintain and operate a state-of-the-art facility, which is one of the reasons they supply machining services to companies such as Bell Helicopter.
Given all this machining capacity and expertise, it isn’t surprising that the company produces most of its own dies on these high-speed machining centers. In fact, Trinity boasts that it can build a die and deliver parts faster than some suppliers can when working from existing dies. And unlike many forging plants that rework dies when the next order for that part is received, Trinity reworks its tools immediately after production so there is no delay on the customer’s next order.
Trinity Forge’s engineering staff uses Pro/Engineer modeling software to develop forging designs based on exacting customer specifications. The company specializes in carefully executed die designs that can produce near-net-shape forgings so as to reduce machining costs. Tool and die designs are then input to its Makino, Mazak or other high-speed machine tools to quickly produce quality dies.
In addition to producing forgings, machining forgings and machining other parts, the company also offers welding fabrication and mechanical-assembly services, allowing it to provide customers with turnkey assemblies as needed. Heat treating, plating, painting and material-testing services are also offered.
Products and MarketsAs befits a company that originated and still operates in Texas, the oil and gas industry is Trinity Forge’s largest market segment. The company also makes products for the construction equipment, power generation, automotive racing and railroad industry segments. It is also now serving the military and aerospace markets with both forgings and machining services. Though most of its business is domestic, the company also ships to a number of foreign countries.
“No matter the complexity of our customers’ specifications or the volume of parts they require, chances are we’ve already done something like it,” Withers said. “Ultimately, our business is to shape the parts that have been shaping industry for the decades we’ve been in business.”
Operating PhilosophyThrough all of the company’s growth, the founders’ commitment to customer service has remained Trinity’s central core value for its more than half-century in business. Also, as a family-owned company, all employees are treated as an extension of the family. Each person has value and talents to contribute to its success, and the company endeavors to treat all fairly and with compassion.
Presently, the company employs 240 associates and is running three shifts. Knowing that the strength of its human-resource base is a key to maintaining its competitive position in the markets it serves, Trinity employs a full-time training manager who oversees a wide program of employee development, education programs and training opportunities for all levels of the company. Some of the classes are taught by employees and some by outside instructors. The company also utilizes live classes via the Internet to add specific expertise to its training arsenal and makes good use of the Forging Industry Association’s Forging University.
Like many other forges, Trinity Forge recently participated in the PRO-FAST JobshopLean Project sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency and implemented by the Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium and The Ohio State University. In this cost-shared project, Trinity focused on its tooling management. The program examined the flow of work through the plant, mapping ways in which plant logistics could improve efficiencies. Through the program’s implementation, Trinity was able to reduce its movement of dies and reduced the inventory of dies waiting for production.
An Eye Toward the FutureTrinity Forge recently completed a several-year transition to a new information-system platform. This is an important step that will improve the forge’s ability to handle increasingly complex requirements and inquiries from its customer base. Additionally, it provides a system that can support future corporate-growth targets.
In business since 1955 with the same ownership, the firm’s long-term view integrates continual reinvestment in its facilities and equipment. This will ensure its ability to provide customers with the changing mix of capabilities and services they will need in the future.
As Withers puts it: “We take great pride in the skills and experience that Trinity Forge’s team members offer our customers. In support of their efforts and our business, we plan to continue to reinvest in our forging, machining and support equipment so we can become a one-stop shopping center for our current and future customers.”
For additional information, visit www.trinityforge.com.