This month’s newsletter is taking a look at Wescott Steel, not only a long time customer of M&S, but in many ways more like a family member. 

Wescott Steel makes bushings and pins out of high Carbon Manganese steel primarily for the mining industry including coal, copper and phosphate.  The Carbon content in Manganese steel is important for the purpose of increasing depth of hardening and improving strength and toughness.  This is critical for the bushings as they are used in the” larger than life” claws (think the size of a small house) that are used in surface mining.  These parts are in constant motion and that is where elements of high Carbon Manganese steel come into play.  As the metals of the bushing and the pins rub together, the surface of the Manganese steel gets harder, making it last up to four time longer than other metals.  This combined with the core maintaining it’s original softness, insures that they don’t crack.  When the cost of being down runs at $17,000 per hour, it is not hard to see why endurance is key in the mining industry.  

The Betsy Ross Bridge, which crosses the Delaware River into New Jersey from Philadelphia, has a key role in the founding of Wescott Steel.  When the bridge was being built, the company at which Jim Burke worked was forced to move – the land it was on was needed for a bridge support.  The company ended up moving up to Easton, PA. , but not with Jim – he was not interested in that far of a move, or commute.  He knew the bushing and pin part of the company as well as it’s customers, which made up only 3% of the business at the time, but saw opportunity.  He decided to stay in the Philadelphia area and with $21,000, extended credit from a machinery dealer, and his partners - Leonard Lange, Robert Peters, and Patricia Harris - Wescott Steel was born in Croyden in 1975.  Jim was told that there was not enough business in bushings and pins to support a company….42 years later it is safe to say he has proven them wrong!  Wescott Steel is currently under the direction of Jeffrey Burke, son of Jim, who brought considerable business experience with him in 1986 and learned the business from the ground up per his fathers wishes and Stephen Pagano who started working at Wescott at 18, right out of high school and has worked and run most operations the company has.

Wescott Steel grew out of it’s Croyden location and moved to Trevose in 1980. In 2011 the company expanded again in order to bring in full size plates if steel, and support a large crane to do the heavy lifting.  They can handle 1/8” to 3” thickness, and up to 36” round steel.  Local companies are used when possible as their vendors, but their market is a global one that expands from the Western part of the US to reach areas like Canada, Chili, and Australia to name a few.  

The bushing manufacturing process is remarkable to watch.  Steel is heated to 1900 degrees, then formed in a press and mold to transform it from a block to a round with the skilled hand of the press operator.  The gap, or seam, is then welded, and the bushing is moved through a furnace, a water bath, and then a press to achieve internal roundness.  A shot peening is then employed to further harden the surface of what is already a supremely strong product.   When tight tolerances on these bushings are required, Wescott Steel reaches out to M&S Centerless Grinding.  Jim originally worked with M&S Founder Meron when they were making small 1” bushings!  That started a relationship that has lasted over 35 years.  

Wescott Steel is a very important customer, and now brings bushings so frequently for grinding that most M&S employees have worked on them at one time or another.  In Jeff Burke’s mind, Wescott Steel is only as good as it’s vendors. He knows that M&S has jumped through hoops to meet their needs.  The relationship is a good one, and its strength can be attributed to the positivity and lighthearted relationships that exist at many levels within the companies.  The people at Wescott Steel have a very positive outlook on the future, and have always been a pleasure to work with.   Both companies are founded on values…..and one of the M&S Centerless Grinding values that we are reminded of as a result of this relationship is:

BE POSITIVE - take time to notice and acknowledge all of the positive things that happen during the course of a day.  We often have to consciously choose to stay positive rather than to slide into negativity.  Look around with eyes wide open and see all of the good that is out there.  Be positive and good things will happen.