In 1928, Helwig Carbon Products, Inc. was founded by Walter O. Helwig in an effort to serve the carbon brush market with quality products and competitive pricing. A man of uncompromising standards and earnest ideals, Helwig conducted business practices under the motto, “The customer is the boss.”
Helwig began his career at Speer Carbon in St. Mary’s, PA; however, disappointing deliveries forced Helwig to venture out independently. With some initial investment from his wife, Adela, the two formed Helwig Carbon. Due to Helwig’s rapport with the Wisconsin Electric Power Company, he quickly developed a loyal customer base in the Midwest.
In the mid-50s, Helwig hired local representatives and established distributors in Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake, and Portland. After WWII, the company moved into a larger building on North 30th Street in Milwaukee to accommodate demand and a rising workforce. Helwig Carbon further established its reputation through innovative product enhancements like the Multiflex Brush, transert brush, and the patented Red Top Brush – now an industry standard.
As the company’s success grew, the need for an efficient order entry system increased. In the mid-70s, John Koenitzer devised a part number system that supported the identification and computerization of the order entry process. Helwig Carbon was now able to accommodate small orders, which became an integral part of their future success.
In October of 1985, Walter O. Helwig, a great entrepreneur and benefactor, passed away at the age of 85. In the office two days prior to his death, Helwig continued his commitment to providing quality products and service to his customers. In February of the same year, Adela also passed away and settling the estate became a priority for Helwig Carbon.
In 1988, Helwig Carbon purchased a 10-acre parcel on the northwest side of Milwaukee to adapt to increasing demand. A 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with an on-site cafeteria was constructed. During this time, Helwig Carbon established itself as a reputable brush holder manufacturer. Pioneering research using constant force springs had refined the quality of Helwig’s brush holders. The constant force design offered superior performance and dramatic improvements in brush life. Customization in combination with fast delivery service had increased customer satisfaction.
In the early 90s, Helwig Carbon adopted a new brush fabrication alternative. Customers looking for economical alternatives to their high-volume requirements could now obtain brushes pressed-to-size. Helwig Carbon became the source for solving carbon brush and commutator related problems. The technical staff’s level of expertise enabled them to make recommendations that minimized maintenance and maximized brush life and equipment performance.
In 1999, Helwig Carbon built a 35,000-square-foot addition to their current facility to accommodate their growing brush holder and pressed-to-size business. Along with the addition, Helwig built a state-of-the-art training room to further employee development and satisfaction.
In July 2009 Helwig Carbon secured its long-term supply of carbon brush plate material through the acquisition of the electrical carbon business of SGL Carbon in St. Mary’s, PA. Historically this plant was known as Speer Carbon, one of the leaders in technical developments for the carbon brush industry. This strategic acquisition has helped to make Helwig Carbon a fully integrated electrical carbon manufacturer and a world leader in electrical carbon research and technology.
Helwig Carbon continued its commitment to employees and customers by becoming a partially employee owned company in 2016.