Digging deeper...HERShovel™ for Women
(Click the puzzle pieces)
SPEC FAB (Specialty Fabrication), a manufacturing and prototype job shop in Honey Brook, PA, assembles HERS™. There are lots of reasons why SPEC FAB is an ideal manufacturing partner, but we’ll start with the two people who are our main contacts and collaborators there: Ryan Bloom, co-owner and Shop Manager, and Jeanne Frantz, who personally assembles each and every shovel. Before taking over assembly of HERS™ in mid-2014, Ryan and Jeanne created new systems to make sure every shovel is within tolerances for length, that all hardware is the best for the job and correctly installed, and that each shovel is built to last. Prior to assembly, Jeanne brands the GHT logo on the wooden handle; after assembly, she examines every tool “with a customer’s critical eye”, thereby ensuring that each HERS™ released for distribution has the quality, appearance and performance of a true premium tool. And it’s no exaggeration to say that anytime we need them, Ryan and Jeanne (and sometimes their co-workers) are there for us.
Other reasons SPEC FAB is an ideal partner?
- Values similar to our own. SPEC FAB is one of five small, privately held companies that make up the TEQ GROUP, which lists its values as honesty, integrity, respect and fun. We can vouch for each of these, and would add two more: personal and friendly service, and dedication to quality.
- Versatility and depth of expertise. Thanks to its sister TEQ GROUP companies, all housed in the same 30,000-square-foot facility, SPEC FAB has access to a wide range of services. From robotic assembly line automation to engineering documentation and complex problem solving, the TEQ GROUP companies share resources and work together “to create a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.” Thanks to this versatility and SPEC FAB’s willingness to take on just about any challenge, the company is also our main partner in the development of our patent-pending tiller, which we expect to introduce in late 2015.
- Extensive experience in the fields of agriculture and landscaping, with sister company TURF TEQ specializing in the design and manufacture of professional grounds care equipment.
- Location, location, location! SPEC FAB is only about an hour away, which has allowed us to build personal relationships and makes collaborative planning, brainstorming and problem-solving a breeze.
Port Erie Plastics
To manufacture our unique D grip, we turned to Port Erie Plastics. True to its name, Port Erie began in a small building in Erie, PA, in 1953, when Henry J. Witkowski began operating a single injection molding machine.
In 1966 Port Erie purchased a 22-acre site in Harborcreek, east of Erie, and built a small manufacturing plant next to a golf course. Several expansions and more than 40 years later, Port Erie is still a family-owned company, but it now has a 575,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehousing complex on 69 acres, featuring more than 75 injection molding machines and employing some 400 full-time employees.
This makes Port Erie one of the leaders in a region that is an epicenter of the plastics industry. The company was a major supporter of the Plastics Technology Center at Penn State University’s Erie campus – at one time one of only two campuses in the U.S. to offer degreed programs in Plastics Engineering Technology. (A project engineer from the Center was instrumental in helping Green Heron Tools fine-tune our large D grip and make our design mold-ready.) The Witkowski building on campus there is named for the family owning Port Erie.
One of the distinguishing features of Port Erie is that it has its own in-house tool room, where molds for individual plastic parts are made. Many companies outsource mold-making to China; we were very happy that Port Erie was able not only to manufacture our grips but also to make the mold for them right here in Pennsylvania.
Ames True Temper
Ames True Temper, which manufactures the unique HERS™ blade, has roots dating back to the founding of the U.S., when Captain John Ames, a blacksmith, began making America’s first metal shovels. By the 1870s, Ames was producing more than 5,000 shovels each day -- 60 percent of the world’s total number of metal shovels. Ames, which remained family-owned until the 1950s, purchased True Temper – another 200+-year-old U.S. company – in 1999. True Temper had begun in 1808 as The Old Stone Shop in Wallingford, VT, where blacksmith Alexander Miller manufactured hoes, axes, nails etc. In the 1830s, the shop began forging a variety of agricultural forks, and in 1902 it joined 16 other forging companies to form The American Fork and Hoe Co. When American Fork and Hoe was enlarged by a $20 million merger of small corporations in 1930, it became the largest hand-tool company in America, supplying about 90% of the hand tools used by U.S. farmers. The company’s name was changed in 1949 to True Temper, reflecting the newly developed process of tempering steel, and its headquarters moved to Pennsylvania in 1981. Ames True Temper is now owned by the Griffon Corporation and based in Camp Hill, PA. The blades for our shovels are made in nearby Carlisle.
Keystone Wood Turning
Ephrata, PA-based Keystone Wood Turning produces the ash handles for HERS™. This small company has specialized in custom wood turning since 1987. Based on customer specifications, Keystone uses computer software to designs parts and then employs high-tech CNC lathes to machine them to precision. Thanks to Keystone’s patience and technical expertise, we have an optimum fit between wooden handle and green D grip – and that, believe it or not, was no small feat!
After Keystone “turns” or produces our wooden shafts, Lanchester Woodworking in Narvon, about a mile down the road from SPEC FAB, dips them in a protective, water-based finish. Lanchester is a very small, family-owned business in the heart of Amish country, dedicated to quality and fast and responsive customer service.