'Rally' News

Humtown Products Grows by Doing More with Less

COLUMBIANA, Ohio — Approaching 60 years in business, Humtown Products is operating at “ultra-high production,” says its president and CEO, Mark Lamoncha, although it’s doing more with less.

Originally a pattern shop for the metal-casting industry, Humtown was doing a lot of work for the railroad industry across the country in 2010, Lamoncha says. When coal deliveries diminished in 2014, the company reinvented itself and embraced 3D printing and additive manufacturing to make sand cores for metal casting in addition to conventional manufacturing.

At one time the company employed more than 200, Lamoncha says. Today, Humtown employs 68, but “we’re probably putting out double what we did before,” he says. The company consumes more than 500,000 pounds of sand monthly, he says.

Lamoncha estimates the company is seeing an 80% increase in 3D printing business this year. Last year, it enjoyed a 53% sales increase over 2017. To continue driving that growth, as Humtown reinvents its processes, it’s also reinventing the workforce, Lamoncha says.

“It’s not just technology. You have to really work with reinventing the workforce behind it. That’s when we moved more to the version of the industrial athlete,” he says. “We’re taking that concept of reinventing the workforce with using technology to help increase them applying their knowledge into being able to put out more product with better equipment and fewer people.”

New technology includes a real-time earning system that Humtown developed and patented last year that gives its workforce a way to produce “a lot more with a lot less” and design their own earning rate, he says. 

The company is also empowering its workers to solve time-management issues through the use of new hand-held devices that deliver job-specific information in real time, he says.

Information includes process sheets or product-quality data that would be accessible normally only via desktop or a bulletin board, he says. It’s too much information for any one person to simply remember, he says, so it needed to be delivered in real time while the worker is “building that job,” he says.

“Everybody’s brilliant. Everybody has the capacity to basically manage themselves with the right assistance and the right deliverable of information,” he says. “We moved all of our information onto a device that each team member has so they have access into basically real-time information.”

With the changing industry, there is a push for manufacturers to adopt so-called “next-space technology,” such as additive manufacturing. Lamoncha says he would like to have a factory in the near future that houses up to 30 printers, each requiring three people to operate it. That would allow Humtown to expand and hire more, he says.

“If you are not in the next-space technology, you will be out of space,” he says.

Humtown is eyeing metal printing as its next space. Lamoncha says America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and Youngstown State University have contributed to an ecosystem that creates opportunities for companies to move into the next-space technology and “lean into the 3D additive sand manufacturing.” 

And while there are always opportunities to continue traditional manufacturing, “We believe the future holds greater bandwidth in moving towards additive,” Lamoncha says. 

However, new technology comes at a higher price, requiring banks and other lenders to make financing available, he says. When markets are poor, financing can be more difficult to acquire, but in the last few years it’s opened and “it’s actually been a lot easier.”

As the tooling space of the traditional manufacturing market diminishes because of additive manufacturing, forcing companies to move to “toolingless” space, Ohio is trying to move businesses into their next spaces and work with banks to ensure financing is available, Lamoncha says.

“In the past, banks have been a little bit more reluctant,” he says. “With the marketplace being better now, there’s better access to financing.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.