By Denise M. Roberts
“Harwil Corporation’s mission is to provide economic yet reliable solutions to any fluid flow or liquid level challenge,” said Bruce Bowmar, Vice President and spokesperson of the privately owned company. “Our goal is to achieve this mission by pairing the highest quality and most economical products with unparalleled customer service. Being from both the accounting and engineering professions, customer service is what we sell. Every Harwil employee from executive to assembler is focused on quality and customer service.”
Bowmar became involved in the water treatment industry when he assumed operations at Harwil Corporation in 1995. “I am a Certified Public Accountant with a mechanical engineering background and the founder of Harwil Corporation was a family friend of my parents. It was time for him to pass the torch and I recognized a great opportunity. I was hired to manage and further develop Harwil and that is my current position.”
Harwil Corporation was founded by Harold ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson and William ‘Bill’ Gregge, thus the name Har-Wil. They met while working in the aerospace industry. In 1959, the pair formed a partnership and developed products for various industries. Hutchinson and Gregge then formed the company in 1963 in the garage of the house that Hutch rented. At the suggestion of Hutch’s physics instructor at UCLA, he developed the Q-1 flow switch for cyclotrons. That product became successful and other variations of the sturdy brass and stainless steel flow and level switches were developed. In the 1980s, a series of electromechanical plastic flow and level switches were developed that became the hallmark of Harwil Corporation. The products were superior to brass and stainless for water and chemical resistance, economical, yet very reliable. Today there remains a market for the reliable Q-1, while most of Harwil’s sales come from its chemically resistant and reliable plastic flow and level switches and controllers.
Harwil Corporation’s largest single market is the pool and spa industry. Most of the major pool equipment manufacturers use the Harwil Flow Switch to verify flow for salt chlorine generators, while major portable spa manufacturers use the switch to protect heaters against catastrophic dry-fire. Other industries served include water treatment, HVAC, geothermal heat pumps, chillers, air scrubbers and truck-mounted carpet cleaning equipment. The company also manufactures fluid flow and liquid level switches and controllers. “This has been our focus for 49 years and we have become refined and very good at it,” said Bowmar. “Our current products are based on simple, reliable electro-mechanical technology. Many applications require proof of flow or level but not the extreme accuracy or cost of other technologies, such as ultrasonic, thermal dispersion or sonar. Likewise, many systems lack the complexity that these technologies require. These applications require just an open-close circuit. Currently we are developing a line of plastic Hall-effect flowmeters and flow switches. This will be the first flowmeter developed by Harwil. In keeping with the company’s mission statement, they will be economical, reliable, accurate and very versatile. We expect to introduce the flow switch version in mid-2013 with the flowmeter version following soon after.”
The most significant challenges the company has faced is a significant increase in competition in marketing, products available and price. Harwil has been able to meet these challenges by developing new products and redesigning existing products to meet new industries and relentless refinement in its manufacturing process to maximize efficiency. Harwil products are manufactured in the USA, which allows tighter control over quality and shortest lead times in the industry.
Marketing for the future
In 2011, Ellis Anderson joined Harwil as Sales Director. With a 20-plus-year background in the water treatment industry, he has developed numerous products for water treatment. “Under Ellis’ guidance, we have begun a vigorous campaign of trade shows and sales representatives,” said Bowmar. “Over the next five years, we will be adding to our engineering staff to accelerate new product development. In longer terms, we could be interested in purchasing orphan product lines or small, related businesses to supplement our internal product development.“ These projected plans will address a host of changes in the industry. “The water treatment industry (both clean and waste water) will continue to grow dramatically,” said Bowmar. “Growth in developing nations as well as greater concern for water quality in developed nations will press technology innovations and growth. We will see more closed-loop recycling of industrial water systems rather than constantly using fresh water. This will not only conserve water but reduce pollution. Greater emphasis on conservation and clean water will require more treatment technology as well as more control-related technologies, such as pumps, controllers and sensors. These industries will share in the growth of the water treatment industry. And while the industry is dominated by large players, there are enormous opportunities for small companies to develop new technology, products or methods. I am reminded of this at every trade show I attend. Water treatment has the brightest future for growth of any industry I can think of.”