Water Well Journal

July 2016

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/692787

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Page 36 of 87

F lint and Walling Inc.'s windmills dotted the U.S. countryside in the company's early days. Its windmills became such a part of early Americana—U.S. soldiers during World War II reported feeling homesick seeing Flint & Walling's windmills throughout Europe, North Africa, and Japan. Now, 150 years later, the company is still celebrating its American roots. "We've changed and evolved over the years, but we have always been focused on moving water," says Scott Lechner, president of Flint & Walling. "We're also proud to still be made in the USA." Headquartered in Kendallville, Indi- ana, Flint & Walling is the town's oldest and largest employer. The company's factory churned out wooden hand pumps in 1866 when Simeon Flint and David C. Walling—machine shop work- ers from Norwalk, Ohio—purchased a share of W.W. Hildreth & Co. from owner William Hildreth. It still assembles and hand tests its smaller-diameter pumps from the same location on the northwest corner of Mitchell and Oak Streets. It's the Mid- west values that has kept the company loyal to the city for all of these years, Lechner maintains. Its employees are also loyal—with many working for the company for 30 years or more. Some are fourth- generation employees who are follow- ing in the footsteps of their fathers, their grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. Bob Tree, a former western regional manager, retired in January after work- ing for more than 30 years with Flint & Walling. The company was always there for him, he says. "I'm not one to puddle jump from one spot to the other," Tree adds. "If somebody's taking good care of me, I'm going to stay." Tree took time off in 2012 to fight Stage IV bladder cancer and the com- pany stood by him, he remembers. After several surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy, he went into remission and was able to return to work. "I worked until I was 70," he says. "That's how much I love the company." Rita Hoover took a job at the com- pany as an engineering secretary be- cause she was looking for a steady paycheck. Now, more than 40 years later, she's still with the company work- ing as an inside sales representative. "It's the work environment, people, and the customers that keep me here," she acknowledges. Low employee turnover means the company retains skilled employees and is able to build strong relationships with its suppliers, which is one reason Tom Griffin, owner of GCO Supply Inc. in Mobile, Alabama, has purchased from Flint & Walling since 1989. "You call there and talk to the same people you've talked to for 20 years," he says. "You get to know them as friends, and it's great to have those kinds of relationships with people." Broome Pump in Binghamton, New York, has purchased from Flint & Walling for more than 20 years because they can be sure when one of the Flint & Walling pumps goes in the well . . . it stays there. "I think part of it, for me personally, is their pumps are American made," says Keith Woodsinger, sales represen- tative with Broome Pump. "They make the motor here in America and the pump in America." Although much has stayed the same over the past 150 years, Flint & Walling didn't reach this milestone anniversary without continually re-inventing its products and investing in innovation. The STAR windmill's success The company's first big success came with the introduction of its Star windmill in 1878. When windmills were first intro- duced in the 1870s, they were limited to supplying wealthier farmers; most saw them as expensive and unnecessary. But "Hildreth, Flint, and Walling Co." saw them as an opportunity to grow its business. The company already produced wooden and cast-iron hand pumps. But with the agriculture industry and western states' population booming, they looked to capitalize on the current labor-saving equipment trend. The first Star mill was all wood and had a 10-foot wheel. The windmill was F & W continues on page 36 Midwest-based pump manufacturer celebrates 150 years in business. By Jennifer Strawn During World War II, Flint & Walling produced 20-millimeter shells and casings. Happy Birthday, Flint & Walling Inc. "We've changed and evolved over the years, but we have always been focused on moving water ." WWJ July 2016 35 Twitter @WaterWellJournl

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