The new NorthTech Workholding name signifies the expanded product line, staff of workholding engineers and range of engineered workholding solutions offered to the metalworking industry. This company grew out of the Kitagawa Division—Sumikin Bussan Int'l Corp. that has been the exclusive representative for Kitagawa workholding products in North America. NorthTech Workholding (Schaumburg, Illinois) is now an independent entity as the exclusive representative for Kitagawa, Tecnomors, and Stiefelmayer. However, the Kitagawa line of standard and specialty chucks will continue to be first and foremost among the NorthTech offerings. In addition to a broader line of products, the company is emphasizing its capability as a supplier of engineered workholding solutions and specialty chucks for difficult applications.
At the same time, the company remains closely partnered with Kitagawa Japan. In fact, according to Spencer Hastert, President of NorthTech Workholding, there is a name connection between the two companies. Kitagawa is a family name that literally translates into “North River”. So “NorthTech” echoes the Kitagawa connection as well as the commitment to technical expertise that is a key part of the new company's mission.
“Even as the Kitagawa Division, we have been a customer-oriented, engineering organization, not strictly a sales-oriented organization,” explains Mr. Hastert. He notes, however, that these engineering services and the line of off-the-shelf specialty chucks were not always known in the marketplace. “The name change is only one part of demonstrating our commitment to the North American workholding market,” he says. The company has also recently increased its sales and engineering force and is in the process of adding new field service application engineers.
Also, the independent status of the company is allowing it to chart its own path as a workholding technology leader. A case in point is the addition of new product lines for applications not covered by Kitagawa offerings. Whereas Kitagawa does not manufacture a line of automatic indexing chucks, Tecnomors is a world-class supplier of these products in a range of models and sizes.
These chucks are widely used in high-volume applications where multiple sides of a workpiece are machined and productivity is critical. Examples include automotive components, valves, fittings and some housings. Tecnomors, based in the industrial northern region of Italy, has standards of manufacturing quality and design innovation compatible with those set by Kitagawa's production facilities, says Mr. Hastert. Likewise, the Stiefelmayer chuck line has distinctive models that have a place in the spectrum of workholding options. For example, the company builds a six-jaw hydraulic chuck that is designed for non-round parts that are subject to distortion in conventional chuck designs. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, this company has a reputation for craftsmanship and engineering finesse.
According to Mr. Hastert, other sources of workholding technology are under consideration, based on the needs and interests of the customer base.
“Many OEM lathe builders here and overseas utilize Kitagawa as their standard chuck of choice. One might assume that this level of success is based on attractive pricing only. In fact, the OEM lathe builders prefer Kitagawa chucks for their value, reliability and consistency,” Mr. Hastert claims. He also notes that the standard chucks are so familiar to many users that they overlook the manufacturer's extensive line of specialty chucks. The company plans to increase the visibility of its new name as it continues to promote its new and traditional lines. The company remains located at 301 E. Commerce Dr., Schaumburg, IL 60175.