US refractory producer HarbisonWalker International (HWI) has described how it is transforming itself and repositioning its brand for aggressive growth.

HWI executives addressed ways in which the company is innovating in a mature industry, improving customer experiences and setting goals for increased global competitiveness. The company also unveiled a branding campaign to mark the next era of its evolution.

Steve Delo, chairman and CEO, HarbisonWalker International, said: “While transformation of this company is ongoing, the launch of our new external branding is a milestone that marks the right time to tell the story of our progress and plans.”

He said HWI is rebuilding, realigning and rebranding itself to grow within its core industries, while pursuing additional business opportunities adjacent with its core customer base. HWI serves virtually every major industry that requires refractory solutions to protect assets and enhance production, including the glass manufacturing sector.

Rebuliding HWI
In 2013, the privately held company owned by two asbestos trusts emerged from bankruptcy and its board appointed Stephen Delo as CEO. Since then, a new senior management team has been assembled to combine expertise and best practices from a broad range of industries with the company’s existing depth and breadth of refractories knowledge. It recently announced that Martha Collins, PhD joined the company in May 2016 as chief technology officer.

Rebuilding internally at HWI during the past two years has also included a focus on creating a culture of accountability, a talent development process and a future leader pipeline. The company has also investmed in business processes and building cross-functional teams to drive innovation and continuous improvement.

“We needed to ensure that we are putting the right people in the right seats for today, and as we are looking ahead to broaden our refractory related offerings,” noted Delo. “Among almost 2,000 people across our global network of 19 manufacturing plants, 30 global sourcing centres and two technology facilities, we found incredible levels of dedication, expertise, creativity and commitment. Before anything else, we needed to build structures to harness the power of our most valuable asset: our people.”

Realigning HWI
During the past two years, the company has completely transformed its commercial operations to make it easier to provide the best solutions for customers across all industries and geographic locations. This transformation is also positioning the company to innovate and diversify across the industries it serves.

Highlights of realignment initiatives include:

Value-Added Service (VAS) teams that provide on-site management, installation, equipment, inventory management, heating solutions, and testing for customers across all industries.

A Global Projects and Engineering Team specializing in greenfield construction, manufacturing and plant modernisation, and servicing advanced engineering needs of existing facilities.

Advanced Technology and Research centres in two different hemispheres focused on learning, testing, exploring and innovating. HWI has the largest refractory R&D lab in North America.

Restructuring of its Global Sourcing Centres (formerly Distribution Centress) to allow for quicker delivery and greater product availability.

Rebranding HWI
In early 2015, the company rebranded to become HarbisonWalker International after market research among employees and customers pointed to high awareness and equity in the HarbisonWalker name. Formerly, known as ANH Refractories Company, its family of companies included longtime industry companies, A.P. Green Refractories Company, North American Refractories Company, and Harbison-Walker Refractories Company.