For 93 years, Ward Mfg. has provided quality jobs to American workers. Back in 1924, Joseph Ward founded the company in Blossburg, Pa., manufacturing a small line of cast-iron steam and drainage fittings, as well as plugs and bushings. The fledgling company’s reputation as a quality manufacturer began to grow and soon began adding capabilities to make Class 150 malleable iron fittings (1928) and malleable iron pipe unions (1938).
The company continued to add new products in the 1980s and 1990s: Class 300 brass-to-brass seated unions, beam clamps, C-clamps, WARDLOX plain-end fittings, COUPLOX grooved-end fittings, TEELOX mechanical branch connectors and WARDFLEX flexible corrugated stainless-steel tubing.
2006 saw Ward’s acquisition of Wisconsin Nipple and Fitting Corp., now known as Ward Nipples, which added welded, seamless and stainless-steel pipe nipples to the company’s portfolio of products. A line of steel couplings was added to the company roster in 2009.
The recipe for success at Ward Mfg. includes high-quality standards, a vision of innovation and first-class workers. Ward’s vision of delivering world-class products, manufactured to the highest standards, for the needs of a fast-changing world is dependent on the caliber of workers in its foundries. Many of these workers are long-time employees with 20, 30, 40 or more years with Ward. Some are the second or third generation of their families to work for the plumbing pipe and fittings manufacturer.
Ward Mfg. employs 508 highly skilled workers who ply their craft at the iron foundry in Blossburg, the WARDFLEX plant in Lawrenceville, Pa., and the pipe nipple plant in Milwaukee. One such employee is Kurt Hoffman, a 40-year veteran at Ward who works in Plant 1 at the Blossburg facility as a machine operator of the secondary grinder, which removes extraneous bits from fittings to produce a finished product. The Blossburg plants produce durable but precise cast and malleable iron fittings and parts that undergo a rigorous quality-control process.
“According to the seniority sheet, I’m No. 21 from the top,” he says. “I first started in the pit, shoveling sand off the floor onto the belts for a couple of years. I moved around to different jobs in Plant 2 and Plant 3, but kept coming back to Plant 1. They’ve all been good jobs. I always tell people that every day is a new adventure.”
Hoffman has a sense of pride knowing he’s had a part in making Ward products. “I’m happy to have something to do with making Ward fittings that are installed all over the world, and the parts look pretty good!”
He adds that he and the other employees in Plant 1 work well together, which makes the manufacturing process more efficient. And he sees some of the younger employees as willing to work hard.
“They have a good attitude, and that’s good to see,” Hoffman notes.
Employee longevity provides consistency and reliability in the quality of Ward’s products. Customers can be assured of superior performance when they go with Ward.