In 1974, furnace salesman Richard Armitage didn’t think commercial heat treaters in the Milwaukee, Wis., area were properly servicing their customers. Instead of accepting it or complaining, he did something about it.

    Armitage sold himself two Pacific Scientific furnaces, moved into a 7,200-square-foot building and hired two employees. Just like that, Service Heat Treating was born.

    After nearly four decades of steady growth – adding equipment and processes and people along the way – Service Heat Treating currently occupies 48,000 square feet and has 31 employees. The company proudly services the construction/agricultural equipment, mining, automotive, military and heavy-truck industries.

    Service Heat Treating is a batch and vacuum heat-treat facility that primarily utilizes large batch furnaces for carburizing, through-hardening, annealing, normalizing, ferritic nitrocarburizing and carbon restoration.  The longtime MTI member also has a line of small batch furnaces for expediting smaller lots.  The company’s two state-of-the-art, 15-bar vacuum carburizing furnaces are capable of processing stainless steels, tool steels and other miscellaneous materials. The furnaces are fully programmable and capable of cooling a 2,000-pound load from 2200°F to below 150°F in four minutes. 

    Service Heat Treating is set up to process parts seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

    “Our philosophy is to run at about 80% of capacity,” said Paul Armitage, president of Service Heat Treating and Richard’s son. “This allows us to maintain our equipment on a strict schedule and gives us the flexibility to maintain our service levels when our customers have demand bulges. We have reduced unanticipated downtime and spend significantly less money because we adhere to our preventive-maintenance schedules.”

    Service Heat Treating is an ISO-registered and CQI-compliant company. The company also has several furnaces that meet or exceed AMS 2759 specifications for pyrometry.

    “We also have an amazing amount of talent for a small company,” Armitage said. “This helps us secure work from larger customers that no longer carry metallurgists on staff.”

    Another key to Service Heat Treating’s success is continuous-improvement efforts. The company installed all-new Super Systems Inc. (SSi) controls throughout the facility in 2012. This system has significantly increased productivity and allowed Service Heat Treating to track many more variables than with the old chart recorders. The company can now track loads more efficiently and calculate revenues by furnace and by load.

    Service Heat Treating recently purchased a new draw furnace to increase its tempering capacity and is adding another one this year to replace old units that failed to meet Service Heat Treating’s quality requirements. The new units are fully programmable and have been hooked into the SSi system. Service Heat Treating is also adding a new Nitrex nitriding furnace that is capable of both nitriding and nitrocarburizing.

    So, what does the future hold for Service Heat Treating? The goal is slow and steady growth as well as opportunities for employees to grow within the company.

    “We see several markets in our area that are not being serviced to our standards,” Armitage said. “We’ll be bringing our servicing standards to these markets in the next few years.