Lee Spring is a Spring Manufacturing Company that’s been in business since 1918. It started here in Brooklyn, New York, this is still our headquarters and we make mechanical springs of all various different types. We have many of thousands of customers in almost any industry that you could think of.
We’ve been involved in industries including aerospace, medical , transportation, industrial products, automation, consumer products. Any device that has moving parts has a spring in it some place. Sometimes springs are considered a commodity item but we base our success on using our engineering expertise to really work with customers who find things that can help them the most.
We’ve gone from “that small shop on Union Street in Brooklyn” in 1918 to 8 (eight) world-wide locations now, including 5 (five) in the United States. In Brooklyn, we have about 100 (one-hundred) employees and we have about 300 (three-hundred) employees worldwide.
Manufacturing is alive and well and growing in Brooklyn. Anytime you’re in an airplane from now on, you will think of Lee Spring. Open your seat belt, there are 2 (two) torsion springs in every seat belt; we make those. We’re in everyday life and we’ll continue to be.
We’ve had scary times, don’t get me wrong; we’ve, personally under my watch, we’ve had a couple of recessions. The last one was a real beauty. Around the turn of the century there was kind of another recession going on and the world was changing very rapidly at that time. I became President of Lee Spring in 1999. Our model of success was starting not to work. We knew that it was time to do something different.
Al Mangels walked through and I was introduced to him and I asked him if he wanted to join us so he sat down and one of the things I mentioned that ITEC was doing at that particular time was lean manufacturing and I think that was basically all he needed to hear I think because Al had been, Al is the kind of guy that’s always looking to see what’s going on, to see what new things he can bring to Lee Spring. That’s 11 (eleven) years ago. It seems so long ago and some of the things that we had started with back then that were so alien to us are now so commonplace in our company that we don’t even realize that that’s where it came from. There are people here now in the management group that haven’t been here that long, and they had no idea that our pull system came from a project that we worked on with ITEC. As things come up and if we feel we need help in certain subjects, well they’re certainly one place that we can go.
We’re constantly looking at what’s the latest and greatest technology, reading up on the latest trends. In the spring industry, which I think tends to be behind the times, so we try not only to stay with the times but stay ahead of the times. It’s all about solving the customers’ problems and the plastic spring has done so. This is one of our plastic springs, it is extremely difficult to mold and that was actually one of the trickiest parts. To the extent that people have attempted plastic springs in the past, there’s always a stepping nature to them. To become a very smooth, pellicle spring, required a very unique and patentable device.
The idea of plastic, most people think of plastic springs they think of toys, they think of slinky’s, we need to come up with something very, very unique. They were looking into something that people hadn’t thought was possible.
Certainly it’s the kind of innovation that companies need to maintain their growth and to remain competitive.
Lee Spring is coming off it’s best year in history and we don’t see anything but bright skies ahead.
I think the secret to success is just very basic, continuous improvement. Always looking at what you’re doing, questioning if it’s the best way to do it and saying “there must be a better way.”