By Fran Eaton for the Technology & Manufacturing Association of Illinois News Bulletin – reprinted with permission
Schaumburg’s Hi-Grade Welding and Manufacturing, LLC is celebrating its 50th year specializing in complicated weldments, custom sheet metal fabrications, CNC machining and assembly.
Hi-Grade started a new chapter in June 2019, when it partnered with a new sister company, HL Precision Manufacturing, that has facilities in Champaign and Fisher, Illinois. The two companies joined under a common parent company now known as H3 Manufacturing Group, LLC.
Steve Hillard, President and CEO of H3 Manufacturing Group leads the newly-combined companies. Mr. Hillard is now President and CEO of Hi-Grade and HL Precision Manufacturing, a company he has owned for the past 13 years. Hillard is focused on expanding both companies’ emphases on providing an even broader set of complex precision solutions.
“As consolidation continues to occur in the industry and discerning customers desire fewer suppliers providing more solutions, Hi-Grade and HL have proactively taken the strategic decision to join forces to better position both companies to successfully meet these demands,” Hillard said. “By combining the complementary capabilities of HL and Hi-Grade, we will create a substantially broad range of inhouse solutions for complex and precise manufacturing requirements. Together, this very solid team will seek to further enhance both companies’ culture of solutions-first support of our diverse customers and opportunities for our employees.”
The two companies come together with no overlap of customers and very little overlap of industries – making the pairing even more expansive together than they were individually before. Hi-Grade has 115 employees currently and HL has 70, while the combined companies’ facilities comprise a total of nearly 170,000 square feet.“We don’t see any changes ahead in personnel – just expected growth,” Hillard said.
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Two out of three of Hi-Grade’s previous leadership team remain – Vice President & General Manager Jon Frejd and CFO Howard Renner. Concurrent with the new combination, Hi-Grade’s former president and CEO Bill Downey chose to retire after a successful 25-year-plus career with the company.
Frejd and Renner come alongside President and CEO Steve Hillard, together with two others on Hi-Grade’s new leadership team – Christine Juretzko-Suma as Vice President of Sales and David Flack as Operations Manager.
Jon Frejd joined Hi-Grade in 1992. He came to the company experienced and talented in CNC machining and moldmaking. “I didn’t want to sit behind a desk, so I pursued training and began working for a different company as an apprentice,” he said. “Then one day the CNC operator who was mentoring me said he was going to quit and gave me a week to learn all I needed to know.” Frejd worked for a while in the field before joining Hi-Grade, just as they expanded from offering mainly welding into also offering machining.