When you think of U.S.-based thermal-processing providers, one of the names that immediately comes to mind is Paulo.
Founded in 1943, Paulo is one of the largest providers of thermal-processing and metal-finishing solutions in North America. Headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., the company operates six divisions servicing the Midwest, Great Lakes and Southeast regions of the U.S. and northern Mexico.
Paulo, which today has 450 employees, started out as a two-person operation. Ben and Pauline Rassieur started Paulo Products Company over 75 years ago, offering heat-treating services using homemade salt baths and second-hand tempering furnaces out of a rented space in St. Louis. The company built its first plant in 1948 at 5711 W. Park Ave., a site that still stands in 2019.
This MTI member grew steadily over the decades. In the 1960s, Paulo was contracted to braze and assemble 6.5 million fuel-pump housings per year for 10 years, touching every fuel-pump housing for every Ford and Chrysler model for a decade. The company also won jobs to treat track pins from salvaged World War II tanks and M14 rifle magazines and braze 106-mm artillery shell casings. It was around this time that Paulo became one of the first heat treaters to install a computer to aid in processing orders.
In 1972, Paulo built a 3,200-square-foot facility in Kansas City. Two years later, the company purchased Mid-South Metal Treating Co. of Memphis, Tenn. A two-story office building was constructed adjacent to the St. Louis plant in 1977 and remains corporate headquarters to this day. Throughout the 1980s, Paulo acquired Olin Metal Products of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and three plants from U.S. Steel Supply in Alabama, Ohio and Tennessee.
Paulo officially went international in 2018 when it opened a 50,000-square-foot heat-treatment plant in Monterrey, Mexico. The company also broke ground on a 30,000-square-foot expansion of its Cleveland plant, which added five vacuum furnaces.
Today, Paulo provides a wide range of thermal-processing services to the automotive, aerospace, mining, agriculture and heavy equipment industries. These services include, but are not limited to: annealing, austempering, case hardening, ferritic nitrocarburizing (FNC), gas nitriding, induction heat treating, precipitation hardening and vacuum brazing/heat treating.
Paulo does focus on a couple of key areas, namely vacuum and continuous belt. The company operates roughly 50 vacuum furnaces across its plants with a core competency of heat treating and brazing superalloy aerospace parts and tool steels. The company also operates several continuous belt furnaces, processing small stamped or fine-blanked components for the automotive industry.
In an effort to stay ahead of the competition, Paulo has invested in building its own software since the early 1990s. PICS (production information and customer service) allows the company to track orders from receipt to shipping; download recipes to equipment to error-proof and ensure repeatability; and automatically quarantine orders in the case of a processing or testing anomaly. Paulo also employs a large metallurgical staff dedicated to problem solving and designing processes to meet specifications.
As for the future, Paulo’s newest investment – a hot isostatic press – will be installed in Cleveland in the third quarter of 2019. And, as it always has, Paulo will continue to invest in its people, equipment and technology to support customers, both current and new.