Milestones in History
In 1973, Josef P. Hecker started Eifel Pattern and Model Company in Fraser, Michigan to provide tooling aids to automotive suppliers. After immigrating to America from Kreuzau, Germany and working more than 15 years in the automotive and aircraft industries, Hecker looked to capitalize on his wealth of knowledge in the industrial patterns and models trade and established a company of his own.
The small shop, named after a mountainous region in Germany, takes in more than 200 custom jobs per year and employs more than 20 highly skilled professionals. Eifel has grown into one of the industry's leading product development and production tooling firms with a number of prominent Tier 1 automotive customers.
Specializing in the product development cycle, from supporting studio styling with full product design to prototyping and production tooling, Eifel produces such products as steering wheels, vehicle aftermarket parts, airbag housing units, car center consoles, headlamps and seat back panels. Eifel also provides specialized services such as studio consulting, on-site data presentations and professional contracting services.
Though Eifel's current status and future appears promising, this was not always the case. As with any industry, the business was subject to ebbs and flows and Eifel was not immune. During the mid-eighties in a technology-driven automotive industry, many small businesses, like Eifel, experienced a reduction in business and suffered from an inability to compete for jobs. Many of the small businesses folded.
In the mid 1980's, Josef Hecker brought in his son Richard to help refocus the business. Richard, who grew up working around his father's shop, had made a name for himself in the industry after obtaining a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech and working as an engineer for General Motors.
The younger Hecker came in with a plan to capitalize on advanced technology and merged the new discipline with Eifel's existing capabilities. By 1989, survival and future success meant keeping a steady eye on industry trends and taking advantage of cutting edge technology. Over the past 10 years the company has invested $3 million into advanced computerized design software and state-of-the-art CNC machining centers. "Though the amount seems like a substantial investment for a small company, it was something we had to do to remain competitive," says Rick Hecker. "The upside of that investment was the company seeing immediate positive results."
With a new arsenal of technology, equipment and know-how at its disposal, Eifel positioned itself as one of the quickest "Concept to Completion" toolmakers in the business. Using cross-functional teams of CAD designers, engineers, and toolmakers in the initial concept phase of a program, Eifel not only ensures that all design and manufacturing concerns are implemented in the part design, but also that the overall product development cycle is shortened, part repeatability is delivered, and program costs are reduced.
In 2000, Eifel emerged from the shadow of a shrinking industry with a new approach to business and a new company name - Eifel Inc.. But the Michigan design and manufacturing firm's evolution would not stop there. Shortly following came new ownership. Richard Hecker completed a buyout of his father's company, taking the reins and guiding Eifel into the future.
Richard built on a philosophy that existed under his father's leadership and made it a focal point - People, Process & Technology. The three combined form the nucleus of a successful business operation.
"Within a good business model each of these areas should be just as important as the other. We put the best people in place and support their growth while devoting resources to obtaining the right equipment and implementing the best methods." said Hecker. "You have to invest in all three in order to be successful."
Today, Eifel's expertise is derived from more than 45 years of business experience in providing turnkey solutions for the company's many satisfied automotive and aerospace customers. Computer aided design and manufacturing are an integral part of Eifel's on-going success in a highly competitive marketplace.
Eifel Pattern and Model is founded by Josef P. Hecker. Eifel focuses on models, patterns and fixtures for automotive and aerospace.
Eifel moves to Fraser, Michigan. Eifel builds transmission housings and castings for Chrysler.
Eifel develops patterns and wood models for Hamilton Standard.
Rick Hecker joins Eifel bringing along his advanced knowledge in engineering.
Rick Hecker introduces CAD/CAM and CNC Machining.
Reverse Engineering / Surfacing / Laser Scanning
Eifel gets a face-lift and a 6,000 Sq ft addition. Eifel evolves into a full service tooling source and has full design CAD data.
Eifel purchases two Leadwell CNC Machining Centers.
Achieves ISO 9002 certification.
Eifel adds high speed machining and net surface machining technology.
Eifel replaces it's boring mill with a Haas 4-Axis Horizontal CNC Machining Center.
Eifel receives Lean Manufacturing training and begins implementing lean practices.
Eifel purchases it's first Hermle 5-Axis High Speed Machining Center.
Eifel purchases a Makino Wire EDM.
Eifel purchases it's second Hermle 5-Axis Machining Center.
Eifel purchases it's third 5-Axis Machining Center, a DMG MORI DMU100P.
Eifel adds 3,000 Sq ft to its manufacturing facility.
Eifel purchases its first plastic injection molding machine - 1996 Nissei FE460 500 ton press.