Bert and Glenn Keats saw more than just the Northwest Side of Chicago in 1958 — they saw opportunity. Starting with three employees and growing to triple digits is something we’re proud of as a company and as a family, and we couldn’t have done it without smart, dedicated, hardworking people.
National MFG Day
We know that the future of our company — and American manufacturing — lies with today’s students and their communities. It’s why we’re so proud to be a part of Manufacturing Day and modern education in Illinois.
The team at Keats supports education and opportunity for young people at every chance we get, not just once a year. We developed Keats University for exceptional in-house training for our employees because it’s vital, not only to the success of our people and our company, but of our industry at large.
Today’s Illinois is a very different place from that of our grandfathers, and encouraging our young talent is more important than ever. These future engineers and manufacturers deserve not only to be inspired and hired, but trained and mentored — it’s why we promote STEM education and the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Youth Task Force Board. It’s also why we’re so lucky to be involved with the staff and students at Wheeling High School.
Of our 110 employees, 17 graduated from Wheeling High School. We’re proud to say that, and we were honored to be invited to teach a class for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs there. We strongly support the STEM Education Program at Wheeling, as well as the Manufacturing Career Internship program with the Illinois WorkNet Center. As we seek interns throughout the year, we’re fortunate to look to Wheeling for bright young talent.
To learn more about the work we do at Keats or the role of manufacturers and the future of American work, check out our feature in The United States of Trade. Over 50 years of excellence gives us more than a great story — it inspires us for the future.
At Keats Manufacturing Co., we take great pride in our dedication to our customers, especially as we design and develop stamped components, subassemblies, and other stamped solutions for various applications across a diverse range of industries. Part of that dedication involves making it easier for our customers to cost-effectively and efficiently meet their metal stamping requirements.
To that end, we’ve put together three ways to reduce turnaround time and the costs associated with fulfilling your stamping needs.
1. Use Conventional or Readily Available Materials
Currently the worldwide trend of manufacturing increasingly miniature parts is reaching the limits of the material performance. Smaller parts need to perform just as well as their larger counterparts without adding on to costs. In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace while still meeting these challenges, companies need to maximize the way they use their material.
Engineers often tend to choose an exotic metal or super alloy when faced with a high performance application. However, compensating tolerances in a design and using materials with greater than necessary strength, corrosion, or heat resistance can be very costly to the bottom line of a project.
Exotics metals and high-strength super alloys are expensive for a number of reasons, especially because of economy of scale. Many of these super alloys are not in great demand, and as a result aren’t manufactured all that often. Another factor which can add significantly to costs is the machinability of many of these materials. The harder a metal is, the more difficult it is to machine; which leads to longer cycle times and higher tooling costs.
So when looking for the right materials for your next stamping project, it will be far more cost effective and timely to first choose from materials that are readily available.
2. Use Progressive Die Stamping
The ideal in manufacturing efficiency is to reduce the number of steps required. Progressive die stamping is designed to deliver these types of efficiencies and offer the opportunity for substantial cost savings. By combining basic forming processes with functions that are normally associated with downstream activities, progressive die stamping provides an overall low cost option, especially in large volumes.
3. Utilize Keats Manufacturing’s Design Expertise
Founded in 1958, Keats now has two locations, with over 142 state-of-the-art metal stamping and wire forming machines. Since then, we have built a strong reputation for quality control and enhancement, while still maintaining fair and economical pricing.
Keats’ engineering department possesses years of specialized design experience across a variety of markets and industries, including medical, aerospace and military, among countless others. The engineering team provides valuable design and planning assistance for each project, from inception to production—with the goal of providing the customer with the best part, at the best price.
Learn More in Our New eBook
For much more detail and additional suggestions for saving big and getting your product finished much faster while maintaining high quality, download our new eBook entitled 10 Ways To Reduce Turnaround Time & Cost Of A Metal Stamped Part. With comprehensive detail about a number of factors affecting various stamping processes, the eBook clearly illustrates how to quickly and cost-effectively completely your stamping project. Download your free copy today!
In his inaugural speech this week, newly-elected Governor Bruce Rauner recalled his visit to Keats Manufacturing Company and described what he learned from Keats’ history.
Rauner acknowledged how far Keats has come: from one employee and a couple machines in 1958, to employing 110 Illinois workers and 75 machines running 24 hours a day, 5 days per week. He also told the story of Keats founders Bert and Glenn Keats and their hard work that brought the company to where it is today.
We’d like to thank Gov. Rauner for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit our company and tell our story. In the remainder of his speech, Rauner also spoke of the challenges Keats and many other Illinois companies face today: finding customers who also do business in Illinois.
Though Keats and Keats Southwest serve companies around the country, local business is important to us. We share Gov. Rauner’s vision for a robust, competitive Illinois economy that our employees and neighbors can enjoy.
Here at Keats, we understand how critical it is to get involved with our surrounding economy. As Gov. Rauner put it, “in order to thrive, we must prepare the next generation for success.”
Our involvement with the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics makes young students aware of the technical and manufacturing opportunities available to them through lectures, events, contests and educational outings. Our paid internship program finds talented Illinois students to learn and work with Keats. We’ve also held an eight-week basic metalworking skills class in partnership with the Jane Addams Resource Corp.
Getting youth excited about the industry is one of many steps businesses can take to boost the economy. It’s important to remember that successful business starts with your own employees and the community that they live in.
U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated for a third straight month, according to an industry report at the beginning of May. As seen in The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), national factory activity rose in April, continuing upward from March—which shows every indication of a continuing trend.
There’s a glitch in this economic scenario, though. Today’s manufacturing workforce is mostly age 45 and older. Baby Boomers are retiring, and it seems as though many young people have negative perceptions about manufacturing jobs, despite all kinds of reliable information showing a future of an increasingly technology-based economy.
It is fairly clear that manufacturing is where the jobs will be in the future. Technical fields are expanding ahead of others. On top of this it the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that by 2018, 1 in 20 jobs—an estimated 2.8 million jobs—will require secondary degrees; over two-thirds will require a bachelor’s degree.
The first place to start engaging future employees is with programs in junior/senior high schools, getting students excited about STEM subjects. STEM education includes every field under the umbrella of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—everything from chemistry to physics, software design to trigonometry. Many manufacturers, including Keats, have developed partnerships with schools to encourage them to offer more skills training and to increase emphasis on STEM programs.
Getting students into our plant to take a good look around is one way to increase awareness and generate interest. Recently, the TMA (Tooling & Manufacturing Assoc.) brought a youth tour group through our facility. It was a fantastic way to expose kids to the great career opportunities in manufacturing. Not long ago, another group engineering students from Tenor High School PLTW (from Milwaukee, WI) also visited Keats for a tour.
An additional initiative Keats is involved with is a group called the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics. Its role is to boost awareness among young people of the importance of STEM training. The Board provided students with special lectures, events, contests, and educational outings.
Right here in our plant at Keats, we held an eight-week basic metalworking skills class in partnership with the Jane Addams Resource Corp (JARC). The class was for our new employees to gain competency in basic metalworking.
You may recall that about a year ago, we blogged about our paid internship program, which is yet another way of giving younger workers the readiness they need to be competitive in manufacturing. It has been extremely beneficial in helping us find the next generation of proficient workers. In fact, last year Keats hired and retained 15 new staff (average age 25), bringing the total number of its employees to 106.
For Keats, as well as the entire manufacturing sector, to benefit and succeed in this era of technology innovation, those of us who love the industry must continue to share their passion with the next generation. It benefits each and every one of us in the end.
2014 brought new trends, new resources and new websites for Keats Manufacturing Co. Before we look forward to 2015, we’re stepping back to highlight three achievements from the past year that are worth acknowledging.
Choosing a Mil-Spec Supplier: Criteria, Questions & Pitfalls
Becoming a reliable supplier to defense- and military-related firms offers access to valuable contracts and invaluable market share. Whether you’re sourcing parts and assemblies or seeking a subcontractor, it’s important to know what to look for when making your selection.
Designing & Manufacturing Metal Stamped Medical Device Components
The medical device industry is one of the fastest growing business sectors, generating over $110 billion in the United States today. The shift toward smaller, more intricate parts for medical devices has required the traditional metal stamping process to evolve in order to meet the needs of precision stamped components.