Dormer Pramet’s connection with Wetmore Tool & Engineering may be a recent development, but the North American product brand is steeped in history and achievements.
In this article, we look at the creation of the world class manufacturer and the development of the production unit in Chino, California.
It all started with the foundation of H.P. Safe in 1950, producing safes and then moved into threaded shank drills, as a new market develop ed in aircraft production.
In the same year, James Wetmore (pictured) founded Wetmore Tool and Engineering with a primary product of special cutting tools and port contour cutters for the fluid power industry. It quickly became known for precision, quality and serviceability. The two businesses were merged together in the 1980’s and evolved to become H.P. Wetmore.
Right from the beginning, Wetmore has been manufacturing high-speed steel, cobalt, carbide tipped, PCD and solid carbide cutting tools for the aerospace industry. The majority of which were made to order products, based on customer specifications.
As such, the production team in Chino, developed a "can do" attitude to meet the most stringent needs of aerospace organisations across North America. From standard cutting tools to complex designs, all are manufactured to 897, 907, 937 and 965 National Aerospace Standards (NAS) and are ISO 9001 certified.
By providing added value to customers for more than 60 years, the Wetmore brand elevated itself into a world-class manufacturer and became the go-to product for airframe and assembly applications. It particularly focused on skin-drilling operations on external structural components, creating holes for assembly with rivets. A Boeing 747, for example, has more than one million rivets per aircraft.
It was therefore ideally placed to capitalize on the significant growth of the aerospace industry during the last couple of decades. Under the leadership of Phil Kurtz, then President of Wetmore, the Chino facility expanded its product line and core markets, producing more adapted shank cutting tools for the sector than anywhere else in the world.
This resulted in Phil winning the 2013 “Corporate Entrepreneur” award, at an event which celebrated business success across Southern California. The accolade recognised the company’s high standards, attention to detail and quality control, while working with some of the world’s top aerospace businesses.
By 2017, Wetmore Tool & Engineering generated revenues of approximately 160 million SEK and employed 170 people. It was owned by Corridor Capital, a US private equity company, before Dormer Pramet completed its acquisition in January 2019, bringing the brand back within the manufacturing industry.
Pictured: Dormer Pramet completed the acquisition of Wetmore Tool & Engineering in January 2019.