Wexco Corp. the bimetallic barrel maker in Lynchburg, Va., can light 40 candles on its birthday cake this year — as the company continues to invest in metalworking machinery and the next generation of technical workers.
John G. Hendrickson founded Wexco in 1975 in King of Prussia, Pa. Wexco produced barrels for sister companies Welding Engineers Inc., a maker of twin-screw extruders, and sheet-line maker Welex Inc.
Wexco moved to Lynchburg in 1977, initially with 15,000 square feet of manufacturing space. In 1986, the company moved across town to its current 50,000-square-foot plant.
In recent years, Wexco has grown significantly in both sales and customers, according to David Weber, president and CEO. The company has purchased five pieces of equipment to make barrels over the past five years, including machinery for boring, multi-axes machining centers and wire EDMs.
Bimetallic barrels are made by centrifugally casting the bimetallic inside the barrel.
Wexco produced its first carbide barrel in 1983. In 1996, the company introduced the JP38 micro-alloy backing material. The barrel maker holds patents in full-length tool steel lined
Wexco's 78 employees will hold a 40th birthday celebration at the plant on July 15, said Don Smith, vice president of sales and marketing.
Smith, who has worked at the company since 1979, is an example of a veteran workforce, which totals 78. The average seniority is 22 years.
But Weber said it's a challenge to find new people to make bimetallic barrels. A few years ago, Wexco started an apprenticeship programs for local high school students.
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