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Nick Sanders (left) and Todd Sumrall operate the friction welder at Helanbak. The tool joint (shiny part) is friction welded to the pipe tube (brown part). The heat generated causes the face of the tool joint and the pipe to weld together seamlessly.

Helanbak: There and back with precision

By BECKY GILLETTE

We all know that the right tool makes the difference, and that is the forte of Helanbak, a precision parts manufacturer which relocated to Columbia in 2014 and manufactures metal products for several industries such as water well drilling, sawmills and firearms.

Yolanda and Kristian Agoglia are the owners of the company that designs and manufactures pipe for the water well, seismograph, geothermal and environmental drilling industries. The company received its name because the most lucrative part of the business when it was established was to incorporate drill pipe for water wells. The parts manufactured go “to hell and back.”

“Our name originated from the drilling rig atmosphere and where our drill pipe products ‘go’,” Kristian Agoglia, president of the company, said. “Drillers are also literally drilling down into the earth and coming back.”

In 2014, the company opened operations in the former Orleans Furniture building off Highway 13, which been vacant a number of years and was considered an eyesore. At the same time Helanbak purchased Terry’s Bits & Services, which provided products and services to sawmill and water well businesses. Since then assets have been invested in new machines, software, and experienced machinists, allowing Helanbak to manufacture customized parts and add a firearms line.

“From product designing to mass production, we facilitate all functions in house,” Agoglia said.

A significant number of jobs in the U.S. in the next 20 years are expected to be eliminated by robots and automation. Helanbak’s production is highly automated, but Agoglia said a precise machine must be operated by a precise machinist.

“About 80 percent of our current production is automated from CNC machining to friction welding,” Agoglia said. “Our design work, operation, and maintenance requires trained and experienced machinists. Quality assurance is a significant part of our operation. With technologies increasing production efficiency, our operating costs continuously decrease. Our biggest cost in production is the time for an individual part. If we lessen that time, we are able to be more competitive.”

Agoglia said the very accommodating business atmosphere in Columbia played a significant role in the company locating there. With assistance from the Marion County Development Partnership and the City of Columbia, Helanbak was able to acquire an ideal facility with room to expand.

Gerald B. (Jerry) Frazier, president and executive director, MCDP, said Helanbak has been a great addition to the Marion County economy.

“They use ‘state of the art’ technology employing workers with advanced manufacturing skills,” Frazier said. “Helanbak increases product diversity in Marion County’s industrial base and adds a new chapter to the county’s long and successful entrepreneurial history.”

Helanbak does business across the U.S., and its products have been exported to Central America. Its next goal is to export to Canada and Brazil.

Agoglia said they have had no difficulty finding skilled labor for the shop that employs 18 people. They have relied on close relationships with junior colleges throughout Mississippi that facilitate specialized programs in CNC machining. Their production manager, Jennings Freeman, also conducts in-house training and development.

Agoglia said the one of the products the company is best known for is its friction welded (also known as inertia welded) drill pipes. The tool joint spins against the pipe under applied compression, which generates a tremendous amount of heat. This heat causes the face of the tool joint and the pipe to weld together seamlessly. There is no torch involved. Agoglia said it is a faster and more precise way of manufacturing drill pipe.

Agoglia said they pride themselves in fast and dependable service and provide overnight shipping for most rush orders

“The fine folks we work with know that we’re the only ones to call when in need of a custom-built piece,” Agoglia said. “No order is too small or large. Providing new, surplus, rerun and retipped bits, we specialize in delivering everything from drag bits, blade bits, and roller cones to PDC’s and hole openers, both cone type and blade type. With more than 45 years of experience serving the drilling, sawmill and fabrication industries, Helanbak has a track record of working hard for clients of every shape and size. Since 2014, we have seen significant company growth and two expansions of product lines including drill pipe and firearm parts.”

Kevin Buckley, who is director of business development for Helanbak, said the company is becoming well known for manufacturing the AR-15 rifle. Production of that began in the fall of 2016.

“There has been strong interest, especially from within the state of Mississippi,” said Buckley. “People like the fact that it is made in Mississippi.”

For more information, see the website, www.helanbak.com or their Facebook page that is regularly updated with videos, www.facebook.com\helanbak.

About Becky Gillette

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