This is the first in a new series of short features looking at companies in the fluid power industry—who they are, how they came to be, what makes them unique.
Chicago-area manufacturer HydraForce was founded in 1985 on the principles of offering the highest quality products and what the company calls “unparalleled customer service.” Seeing a gap in the marketplace, founders Jim Brizzolara, Dick Fontecchio, and Ron Reuter sought out advice from industry insiders and took aim at the cartridge valve market with innovative designs.
HydraForce designs and manufactures hydraulic cartridge valves, custom manifolds, and electro-hydraulic control solutions. Currently, it offers more than 7000 valve model configurations and designs more than 1200 custom manifolds (HICs) per year. The company has grown to three ISO-certified facilities (in Lincolnshire, Ill.; Birmingham, England; and Changzhou, China), and claims it is the largest provider of cartridge valves in the hydraulic industry.
The company, with more than 1000 employees, serves customers in the construction, agricultural, material handling, industrial, alternative energy, entertainment, power train and aerial lift industries—as well as other off-highway machinery manufacturers. Major competitors include Sun Hydraulics, HYDAC, Parker Hannifin, and Bosch Rexroth Oil Control. Approximately 65% of the company’s business is done domestically.
“If you’d looked at the cartridge valve industry twenty years ago,” said Jim Brizzolara, founder and acting CEO, “you’d have thought that every valve you’d ever need to design a system already existed, but you’d be wrong.”
HydraForce continues to design and release new product at a fast pace, averaging an astonishing 160 new products each year. Recent releases focus on continued circuit compactness, valves that offer multiple hydraulic functions in a single cavity and valves that sustain continuous high pressure operation. These news designs reduce the material and cost of the hydraulic manifold, offer increased circuit design flexibility, and allow OEMs to reduce the hydraulic footprint or distribute functions throughout their machines in ways that were never before possible.
David Price, Marketing Communications Manager, describes the corporate atmosphere as helpful and responsive.
“There are no interdepartmental boundaries, and employees are encouraged to act in the best interests of their customers both internal and external,” said Price. “Our flexibility, expertise, go to market approach, short lead times, and large product offering are what separate us from our competitors.”
Price said that the company has experienced healthy growth over the past two years and they expect it to continue.
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