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Making it better in America
Family-owned business thrives due to fifty years of hard work and perseverance
It would be difficult to find a family that epitomizes the “American Dream” more than the Harringtons of National Technologies Inc.
From their company’s motto, “we make it better in America,” to NTI’s rise from humble beginnings, the Harrington’s represent everything great about American entrepreneurial spirit, so much so that National Technologies Inc., was named the 2012 Jeffrey Butland Wisconsin Family Owned Business of the Year by the Small Business Administration.
The story of how NTI reached this plateau is one of hard work and determination.
Starting from scratch in the back of an old garage more than 50 years ago, Robert Harrington and later his son and current president Thomas Harrington built up their Milwaukee-area company from a fledgling startup to a competitive, innovative company that had $20 million in sales in 2011.
“We started from nothing because that’s what we had,” owner Tom Harrington said with a laugh.
Harrington began working at his dad’s shop after school at the age of 12, back when the machines were still equipped with leather belts and broke down quite frequently. However, the company has come a long way since then.
Despite being in the economically combative machine parts manufacturing industry, National Technologies has consistently grown year-in and year-out since its founding in 1959. With the help of the Small Business Administration and its 504-loan program, NTI recently expanded and upgraded its manufacturing location.
“For us to be competitive we have to be very, very good at what we do,” he said.
National Technologies supplies equipment and components to a variety of businesses, including corporate powerhouses like Caterpillar, John Deere and Waukesha Engine. While NTI did not escape the confines of the global recession of 2008-2009, it has increased the number of its full-time employees from a low of 61 just a few years ago to about 160 today.
National Technologies has been family run since its inception in 1959. The company’s two lead engineers started as floor machinists decades ago, highlighting NTI’s commitment to its employees.
Currently, the third-generation of Harringtons' is incorporating an aggressive marketing strategy that has led to a doubling of sales over the past three years. The company continues to invest in itself, retraining its employees and spending roughly $500,000 each year on improvements to its manufacturing facility.
NTI has been recognized by the community for numerous awards, including being named a “Top Place to Work” in 2010 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and included in the “Future 50” list for fastest growing companies by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.
The MMAC is probably spot on its analysis of National Technologies, as it has increased the size of its manufacturing facility 200% in the past couple years, from 40,000 sq. ft. to a 120,000 sq. ft. state-of-art factory, thanks in part to the SBA’s 504 program. This has led to dozens of new jobs being created in the Milwaukee area.
National Technologies continues to attract new business, improve its facilities and train its employees, something Tom is sure his father would have been happy to see.
“He’d be proud if he could see us today,” Tom said.