BAY SPRINGS — Hol-Mac Corporation is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a manufacturer with a $2-million expansion expected to add 50 workers to the current work force of 300.
As a diverse manufacturer of heavy steel fabrications and assemblies, specialty machines, hydraulic cylinders and tanks, Hol-Mac serves major original equipment manufacturers (OEM) nationwide.
Why has Hol-Mac been able to prosper and even grow when many other manufacturers in Mississippi have gone out of business? The key has been a combination of diversification in the customer base and an emphasis on workforce development that has increased efficiency and reduced waste, says Charles B. Holder Jr., CEO of the company.
“We have been training our people for 25 years,” Holder said. “We have put tremendous efforts into continuous improvement to eliminate waste and become more efficient, which is all about training your people. We have some mighty good, dedicated people here continuously trying to upgrade and train. Another thing that has contributed to our success is we have always acquired the latest technology. Again, that gets back to training your people in how to use it.”
The company had humble beginnings. It was established in 1963 in an old stock barn with a tin roof and a dirt floor. Originally known as Southern Welding Machine, the company provided services primarily to local timber, oil field, construction and agriculture industries.
Over the years the company has grown from two employees in one building to 300 employees in four modern facilities covering nearly 400,000 square feet. Three facilities are in Bay Springs and a subsidiary, Anel Corp., is in Winona. Holder acquired his partner’s interest in 1967, and the company was incorporated as Hol-Mac Corp. in 1969 in order to obtain financing to diversify into producing hydraulic cylinders.
Early experience manufacturing in the rural area was that the marketplace was very erratic, either “feast or famine.” The company decided that hydraulic cylinders would be a product that could be built and marketed in a more consistent manner than previous endeavors.
“This proved to be a very good business decision, and Hol-Mac became known as a quality manufacturer of hydraulic cylinders,” Holder said. “The company still wanted to produce fabricated steel products in addition to hydraulic cylinders. That desire allowed us to manufacture agricultural equipment, which offered continuity of manufacturing and added stability.”
In the 1970s and early 1980s the company saw increased growth and financial stability — but also tremendous competition.
“Customers started demanding lower prices and better quality,” Holder said. “Hol-Mac began hearing about high-quality products with very competitive prices from foreign manufacturers. That trend continued throughout the 1980s with customer demands to reduce or hold prices firm for several years.”
Upon close evaluation, Hol-Mac came to realize the new business climate was here to stay. Holder said after thorough self-analysis, the company concluded it had to do a better job training, organizing and preparing employees to meet demands for superior quality products at reduced prices.
“Although we invested in modern equipment that incorporated the latest, most efficient technology available, employees had not been exposed to the team-building and quality management principles, which were being used by competitors to their advantage in achieving superior quality and lower prices,” Holder said. “Assessments of employee’s skills were conducted and many deficiencies which impaired employees from efficiently performing their jobs were identified. Training was initiated to correct these deficiencies and the results started to prove very beneficial for the company in meeting customer demands.”
Holder is a major proponent of workforce education not just for his workers, but those across the state. He has served on the state Workforce Development Council since its inception.
“I am of the opinion that if this state does not address the training of our people, we will continue to lose additional manufacturing jobs,” Holder said. “We can’t build the economy of this state on low-skill jobs because we will continue to lose the low-skill, low-paying jobs.”
A focus on workforce improvement helped lay the groundwork for the company’s current expansion project to produce fabrication and parts for large mining trucks. Hol-Mac had been doing work for the mining company for about 18 years. Holder said Hol-Mac’s reputation for reliability, quality, innovation and customer satisfaction helped win the contract
“This work was being produced in Mexico and because, I think, of our competitive prices, on-time delivery and quality, we are selected to build these items,” Holder said. “We are in the middle of a $2-million expansion, which we expect to be complete by August 15. We will employ 50 additional people when it is all up and running. These will be high skill, high-wage jobs.”
Hol-Mac has been able to thrive during the current economic downturn partly because it is very diversified.
“We build a lot of different things,” Holder said. “The company is a major supplier of welded steel fabrications, contract machining and assembly services to major original equipment manufacturers. Hol-Mac has developed a niche in the industrial market by combining our expertise and products in steel fabrication, cylinders and hydraulic tanks to better serve original equipment manufacturers. Our price-competitive sourcing, broad range of experience and capabilities allows us to aid in solving customer problems, as well as provide great benefits and cost-saving strategies to our customers.
“We offer a wide range of metalworking and machining services, from burning to shape to turnkey production of products. Our turnkey services include product design, tooling design and manufacturing.
These turnkey operations can be as a whole unit or an attachment that can be delivered to customers as a finished product.”
Hol-Mac is privately owned family business. Holder’s son, Jamie Holder, is president and chief operating officer of the company. Three other sons, Chuck, Jeffrey and Rory Holder are also involved in the operations of the company.
For more information, see the Web site www.hol-mac.com.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org.