Charles Wiberg was determined to operate a successful commercial heat-treat operation. He established Midland Metal Treating in the 1960s but was forced to sell the business in the recession of 1980. Instead of waving the white flag, however, Wiberg founded ThermTech just two years later. To put it mildly, his determination paid off.
Wiberg started ThermTech in Waukesha, Wis., with a 20-year-old- Ipsen IQ furnace and a ton of know-how when it came to refurbishing used equipment. He was also able to build some of his own furnaces, which came in handy when serving the foundry businesses that were plentiful in the region at the time.
Growth has been steady and constant at ThermTech. In 1990, the company built a new 35,000-square-foot facility. Ten years later, ThermTech constructed a 20,000-square-foot addition to that facility and moved back into the plant that it originally rented when the business started. In 2011, the company leased a 65,000-square-foot facility about 3 miles away to accommodate austempering and quench-and-temper equipment and its fabrication shop.
New furnaces were sparse in ThermTech’s formative years. Instead, two used vacuum furnaces were purchased to accommodate its tool-steel business. During this time, the company was able to successfully grow with used, refurbished equipment and self-manufactured furnaces, including the CEW (Charles Edward Wiberg) line. It wasn’t until 2001 that ThermTech bought its first new furnace, a 10-bar vacuum unit. Today, however, new equipment is not an issue. ThermTech has added five IQ furnaces, several large box furnaces and additional vacuum equipment since 2003.
All of this equipment is put to good use. The company serves the agriculture, construction, medical, military and mining industries. ThermTech also does work for the forging industry, specifically the oil and gas sector. This MTI member offers a wide range of services, including age hardening, annealing, carburizing, nitriding, normalizing, straightening, vacuum and more. With two staff metallurgists, the company is able to take on jobs that many other heat treaters pass up.
ThermTech is also one of the few heat treaters with a dedicated customer service department. There is no automated phone system here. Customers are on tight schedules and need instant answers, so that’s what ThermTech provides. The company’s customer portal is a prime example. Its computer system allows customers to check work in progress, download data and access invoices.
ThermTech was, and still is, a family affair. Wiberg’s wife, Joan, and daughter Michelle all worked for the company and played vital roles in its early days. Today, ThermTech is operated by son, Steve Wiberg, and daughter Mary Wiberg Springer. Charles Wiberg built the foundation for the company, but his guidance and support since his retirement in 2002 have been instrumental in ThermTech’s continued success.
In fact, Charles Wiberg’s philosophy of always marching forward is not lost on his son and daughter. Over the next 5-10 years, ThermTech will focus on automating and improving efficiency throughout its operation. The company is looking to install manipulators/robotics wherever it makes sense, and it will continue to keep up with changes in the marketplace, especially with respect to new technologies.