01: Aerospace, Medical, 3D Printing & OEMs with Greg Himstead of Titanium Industries


In episode 1 of The Vox Verba Podcast, we dive into the intricate world of titanium manufacturing and its impact on various industries. In this episode, host Andrya delves into the conversation with Greg Himstead, exploring how Titanium Industries is at the forefront of serving Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in medical, aerial, defense, and industrial sectors.



1. Introduction - (04:05)
2. Who Finds Value in Titanium Industries' Offerings - (04:22)
3. Additional Stakeholders - (05:16)
4. Primary Services and Products - (06:28)
5. Additional Services and Products - (09:24)
6. History of Titanium Industries - (11:15)
7. Achievements at Titanium Industries - (13:47)


  • Charters of Freedom

episode transcript

Andrya (00:01.03)
Hi everybody. Welcome to the Vox Verba podcast. Today's show is about the voices behind today's most influential organizations. I'm your host, Andrya Allen. At Vox Verba, we lift up the voices behind today's most impactful organizations. We believe that every brand has a voice and that voice is powered by its people. Today, we have the pleasure of hearing from a global leader.

with a brand that has persisted, innovated, and led for half a century, titanium industries. We're taking a closer look at what makes them the front runners in specialty metals and titanium supply, serving diverse sectors from aerospace and defense to medical and oil and gas. Our guest today is Greg Himstead, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Operations of Titanium Industries. Greg, thank you for joining us today.

And congratulations to titanium industries for five decades of excellence. Let's begin with a snapshot. Could you provide a brief introduction about yourself and the role titanium industries plays in the markets you support?

Greg Himstead (01:11.438)
Sure, it's happy to be with you today, Andrea. I joined Titanium Industries back in 2011 as an aerospace market director. And today I'm serving in the role of a vice president of sales, marketing, and operations with a global organization. Keeps me on my toes. TI is an integral supplier to today's leading aerospace, medical, oil and gas, industrial, and defense suppliers around the world. And

I've been in the specialty metals business since the 90s in various different alloy families and commodities, but I'm pleased to be here with titanium industry these last 12 years.

Andrya (01:52.826)
Thank you, that's incredible. You know, every company has its North Star. Could you share the driving mission of Titanium Industries for us?

Greg Himstead (02:01.966)
Yeah, so clearly it's our number one goal is to take care of our customers with our materials, with our service, with our value add capabilities, with our just in time access to metal that's needed to make these critical technical parts for these very interesting industries. We also work to employ the best people in our industry. We've got many people that have been here decades with an awful lot of experience.

and who appreciate titanium industries as an employee, a player and a corporate culture to work within. We also partner with some of the most significant and successful suppliers of base metals in the world. And that's a global activity as well. And our underlying motivation is to be a global leader in all of these aspects.

Andrya (02:52.178)
Thank you, Greg. What would you say sets titanium apart from others with similar offerings?

Greg Himstead (03:02.582)
One of the aspects of the company we're pretty proud of is we're independent, we're privately held, closely owned and operated by the Paddock family. Since 2001, we're extremely customer focused. We have a customer first mentality in just about everything we do. Flexibility is very important to us in terms of creating solutions for our customers or solving problems in innovative, entrepreneurial ways. We've got, as I mentioned earlier, we've had a great team.

experienced global speaking local languages coming from these industries that we support. We make quick decisions as a privately held company. We make quick decisions with a long-term focus so that we're not necessarily as concerned about the end of the quarter, end of the month numbers for our investor or private equity. We don't have that dynamic within our group and then we're continuously strengthening our network.

with additional service centers, additional people, additional inventory that we're providing to these most important customers.

Andrya (04:05.446)
Thank you.

It sounds like a lot of that centers around being customer centric and customer focused. Let's talk a bit about who you impact in your work. Who finds the most value with what titanium industries offers?

Greg Himstead (04:22.242)
That's interesting. We have most of our supply agreements are with OEMs, Original Equipment Manufacturers, either medical or aerial or defense or industrial. But most of our transactions are at the machine shop level where the parts are being made. So our contracts negotiations and sort of sophisticated supplier, supply chain management competencies are leveraged at the OEM. But our day-to-day transactions, the...

people that are customer service folks on the front line are taking care of our machine shops, sometimes mom and pop machine shops, sometimes massive machine shops. But knowing how to speak to and service both places in the supply chain is something that takes years to learn about and we've done a good job developing, as I said, the competencies within the company to be able to do both excellently.

Andrya (05:16.806)
Thank you.

Greg Himstead (05:16.99)
And then some of the additional people that are important to us and other stakeholders, it's our employees, for the people that join us, have the opportunity to work in a dynamic, growing corporate culture to develop their career path.

And then of course, the suppliers are very interested in our success. We aggregate demand from thousands of customers and bring them together into our purchasing group, which manages the inbound metal that comes from our most important mill supply base and we partner there as well. And then sort of lastly, our ownership who is certainly interested in long-term profitable growth and that's the trajectory that we've been on since they bought the company more than 22 years ago.

Andrya (06:07.97)
Incredible. OEMs, Original Equipment Manufacturers, Machine Shops, they're looking to you for specific services and products. Could you help me understand those better? Could you spotlight your primary services and products? What people most often come to you for?

Greg Himstead (06:28.814)
It starts with, for us, it's a semi-finished metal. It's a bar, a plate, sheet, tube, a block, a forging wire, something that's going to be taken and used by our customer to make a part of some system just sort of downstream. So if it's titanium, we have titanium alloys in all product forms that I just mentioned.

So that's certainly our core, that's where we got started 50 years ago, titanium semi-finished metals. And then...

Over the years, we've developed additional products in our product portfolio. We've particularly advanced and developed our long product offering, which is BAR. Anything that's BAR or could be REC or HEX, hexagonal cross-section. But it's long. We are now, in addition to titanium, stocking and supplying stainless steels, alloy steels, aluminum, carbon steels, et cetera, nickel-based alloys, ink and else as well for these same machining customers that are using the titanium.

And we both, primarily a bar product is the number one product in the company across these alloys. Plate and sheet is probably second and third behind that. And then in 2013, we made an acquisition of a company called Pierce-Bafford Metals. And that brought us into this multi-metals, this more than titanium product line in a big way. And also brought us into the aerospace faster manufacturing world. So now we're a...

global supplier to all of the companies that are producing fasteners that hold airplanes and engines, etc. together.

Greg Himstead (08:09.486)
starting with our base metal and of course their engineering and their manufacturing to make those critical components. So we're like a household name in the fastener world because of that acquisition in 2013. And then beyond the metals themselves and maybe a little bit where they're used, we do a lot of processing in-house and for us that's value add and that's basically taking a bigger piece of metal and making it a smaller one or changing the dimension.

Greg Himstead (08:39.06)
saws, water jet cutting machines. We also do some chamfering of bar ends and then we also more recently have started to do centralist grinding which helps us change the diameter or the dimension of the tolerances on a round product. And that's very important to our customers for different reasons. That's a new technology for us and we're actually rapidly expanding there now.

Andrya (09:04.738)
Wow, it's incredible to see how much Titanium Industries has grown and changed to meet the marketplace over the years. Thank you for sharing that with me. You may have already spoken a bit to this, but are there additional services or products in your portfolio that you might want to mention that you didn't already?

Greg Himstead (09:24.322)
Yes, thank you. So two, actually three things. So one is we've been working on our electronic connectivity with our customer base. So, and that takes the form of online quick quote app that we've developed where customers can come in and get budgetary quotes real time with all the automated communication and the documentation that goes along with that.

And we also have developed a online forecast collection tool, a platform for our key customers that are

that are part of bigger contracts, it helps facilitate our collection of data and helps make it easier for our customers to submit the forecast to begin with. And then we do a better job of aggregating all of that demand and anticipating changes. And then sort of the third thing I'll mention is we've recently added what are called build plates or for 3D additive to our product line. And so these are base plates that 3D printed parts are built up upon through the 3D printing process,

layer by layer process of building up the part, which is where the word additive comes from. So our build plates are now available around the world and they're being used in nearly every market segment. It doesn't seem to be one that's not interested in 3D printing. And it's nice that we found an offering there to go along with that growth and the sky is the limit as far as we're concerned to where that particular product takes us.

Andrya (10:53.198)
Wow, titanium industry seems to be following emerging technology needs of the marketplace. That's incredible. You know, every company has its own story from the early days to now. Would you share your history, the history of titanium industries and the journey so far?

Greg Himstead (11:15.054)
Sure, well it's been more than 50 years, so I'll try to keep it brief. It's a long period of time. We started in 1972. Through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we were more or less a part of several mills. So we would be the distribution arm, or in one phase we were an application development arm, where we were doing welding and other kinds of titanium fabrication.

The mills that previously had owned us were called, one was called Ormet, one is called Still Today Tiamet, and one that also exists today is ATI. In 2001, Jim and Brett Paddock took the North American distribution business from ATI private, so they had divested that business. We became independent and with a North American footprint at that time.

And then in 2000 between then and now we've been building up our network in Europe our network in Asia Continue to expand that and grow that today. So we're back to a global footprint

We've started stocking these multi-metals back in 2006. And then of course, I mentioned the 2013 acquisition of Pierce-Baffert Metals. That really catapulted us into a global full range specialty medics with all alloy families under one roof type of company. Kind of a one-stop shop capability for bar products in particular. And then in 2020, we opened in Germany just to...

put an interesting little milestone there. In the middle of COVID, we opened a facility on the continent in Europe and Germany. That was our first European-based service center. And then I mentioned a second ago, we added the send-alerts grinding into our services and our value-add capabilities back in 2021. So we have more of those in bounds. We'll continue to expand there. But so that's...

Greg Himstead (13:11.69)
more or less an overview of where we've been the last 50 years. Throughout these five decades, we've provided a great place to work. Corporate culture is super here. It's very satisfying to support these technical applications to these major manufacturers around the world, which are doing some pretty cool things with our metal.

Andrya (13:32.246)
Incredible. What a cool journey. Varied long history. Through your time there, you know, every journey has its milestones. Could you recount a time when you felt proud of an achievement at Titanium Industries?

Greg Himstead (13:47.886)
Sure, sure. Well, beyond the milestones that I mentioned, becoming a private entity, which we're certainly proud of, and acquiring Perch Baffert Metals in 2013, one of our most proud accomplishments for the company comes before my time, but it's when Titanium Industries was supported a U.S. government project called the Charters of Freedom. And there's actually a long article about that on our website with a lot of technical aspects about what that project entailed, what the challenges were.

But the bottom line is that we were selected in the late 90s to be part of a program that protects the original Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence of the United States. And so those original documents, parchment, et cetera, are housed and protected by cases and frames that are built from our titanium.

And so every patriotic holiday we remember that and it's a very cool thing to know that we're helping protect the documents of freedom of our country.

Andrya (14:49.914)
What an honor!

Thank you for sharing that with me. You know, every industry, just like Proud Moments, it also comes with its own challenges. What acts as an anchor for you during turbulent times?

Greg Himstead (15:06.718)
Yeah, the specialty metals market or industry is very cyclical. Normally every decade there's one or two pretty bad downturns. The most recent was the COVID downturn when 25% of our business went away in two months. We were 50% aerospace and 25% of that 50% of that market went away. So we had to really make some adjustments. There's there's a lot of challenges. Each downturn is a little bit different.

But we rely on our experienced people who know what to do, to know what strategies to turn to. We work together with our customers and our suppliers to solve problems. In those cases, there's an oversupply problem. So how do we slow down the supply? How do we reposition some metal? How do we get some concessions at our customer for metal? Things like that. And beyond that, we have a...

50 years of known inventory control management strategies that help us. And then we can also flex with our service center in terms of locations to control cost if we need to contract. We've done that in certain downturns in the past. And there's a lot of flexibility in the tools we have in our toolbox to be able to deal with those kinds of difficulties.

Andrya (16:28.814)
Thank you for sharing that with me. It's through these things, you know, it makes me think of earlier when you shared about opening in Germany during the pandemic, these turbulent things that make us strong for times like that.

Greg Himstead (16:42.273)

Andrya (16:44.51)
When you know an industry well, like you do, you start to see prevalent myths or misconceptions. Are there any prevalent myths or misconceptions about your industry or about titanium industries that needs to be addressed?

Greg Himstead (16:59.486)
Yeah, I mean, there's two that I'll touch on. One myth is that when you buy from a distributor and you're not buying from the mill directly, you're paying an unnecessary premium in price because we are a buy and resell company, sourcing at the mills and then supplying the machine jobs. So the reality is, when you buy something and you...

put it through a supply chain and you need to have it on the shelf ready for demand or unexpected demand. There are absolutely hidden costs there. We characterize them as total cost of ownership, cost of carrying inventory as the financing value to that. There's also the physical space and the leasing or owning of buildings to support the physical space where you're storing metal. There's value add, which I mentioned, mainly processing for us with our saws or grinders. Then there's the benefits of supply assurance. You know, when...

Maybe there's a premium, but the cost of a line down without our safety stock or our supply chain solution in place working for you, you usually will far outweigh any kind of savings from a mill direct large bulk strategy. And that's another component is we break bulk. We buy in tens and thousands of pounds, and then we break the bulk down to 200 pounds, 300 pounds, 500 pounds here or there. And so that minimizes a smaller companies need to.

commitments to large amounts of metal and that's a service that we provide and there's value to that. And in the end we've got to be ultimately competitive and so that's the other side of the of the fence. We can invest a lot of our money in the inventory or into equipment to process or into our network globally but we still need to be competitive and that's something that we never lose sight of.

We think we're a best value supplier and our thousands of customers around the world support that each day with the orders that they give us and the commitments that they make in the form of those orders. And then one other area just about sort of misconceptions is there, not necessarily misconception, but there's trends and fads about sole sourcing and multi-sourcing. And right now the world is moving towards a multi-sourcing strategy because they want supply chain resiliency. They want redundancy.

Greg Himstead (19:19.678)
want backup supplies because of some of the supply chain interruptions that happened over the last two or three years. And we as a, actually as a, the funny thing is we as a single source can be a redundant monthly source because we're buying from multiple mills with multiple inbound flows of metal into our 14 warehouses around the world. So there's redundancy there as well. And so we typically have the answer to those two different perspectives.

depending on what the trend is at the time in the market that we're in.

Andrya (19:52.262)
Thank you for sharing that with me. And it's that deep awareness of the industry that can help provide the details that people need to know to make better informed decisions. This next question is similar to that. What are some common queries or concerns that you often encounter from customers or maybe industry partners?

And when you encounter these questions or concerns, how do you typically respond?

Greg Himstead (20:23.866)
Well, today, one of the biggest concerns is on-time performance or supply chain reliability, as I mentioned a second ago. But beyond those metrics, so to speak, there's transparency and then there's long-term agreements. And so our customers are demanding much more transparency into our own supply chain, into our own inner workings. And similarly, our customers are asking for more longer-term agreements.

so that they can de-risk the future and de-risk their supply chains. And so, we've got a highly competitive solutions for those concerns. The processing we have, the processes we have internally, the deal structures that we put together to address these concerns with our customers. They also come from experience and we can deploy different strategies, different solutions, different deal structures as I mentioned.

meet specific customers needs and those needs change over time and we can develop flexibility in that multi-year agreement pretty well. You know today commodity price volatility is a concern and inflation is a concern and so one of the things we do to help with transparency is we prepare a market conditions report by

Greg Himstead (21:49.63)
real-time information about what's happening on the mill supply base, what's happening with lead times, what's happening with nickel pricing or for titanium ingot pricing. And so that's valuable and companies come looking for that. Hey, where's the next edition of your market study? We don't send it to everybody. It's a proprietary piece of information, but the key accounts benefit from that. And it also helps us with discussions about price adjustments, when they need to happen and why they need to happen and things like that.

It's a combination of transparency and also accuracy of information there.

Andrya (22:24.102)
Thank you, Greg. Okay, let's go a little deeper. If you were to pinpoint one singular strength of titanium industries, what would that be?

Greg Himstead (22:37.846)
I think we are relentless. We don't give up in finding solutions and winning our share of the market. It takes a team to do that and it takes vision and good leadership to do that. But our customers need long-term supply chain solutions and we relentlessly pursue the best options.

Andrya (23:03.758)
Incredible, thank you. That's one of my favorite words. Except for when it comes to my children asking for things. Oh, as we close our conversation today, Greg, is there anything that we miss that's important to cover?

Greg Himstead (23:21.482)
Yeah, so first in addition to stating the obvious, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. Amid the market that we're in right now and there's a continuing evolution of supply chains, some of the former supply chains out of Eastern Europe are no longer functioning. There's some decoupling with China. We have a facility in China that's doing quite well.

But we are following the changing manufacturing footprint and actually are pleased to announce that we will be opening three new facilities in the next 12 months. One is in Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia. One's going to be in Bangalore, India, or Bengaluru. And one's going to be in France to support aerospace growth there as well, and medical. So we're definitely a company that's not standing still. And we are looking and building and multiplying our footprint print so that we...

We follow our key customers around the world to better support them with local solutions, stocking and processing, and to position titanium industries for that continued long-term profitable growth.

Andrya (24:27.666)
Thank you so much, Greg. I enjoyed our time today. Your brand, Titanium Industries, is unique and valuable. In the next part of our conversation, we will talk through what your story reveals and discuss what stands out to make Titanium Industries resonate with your best people. Thanks again for being here, Greg. If listeners wants to know more about Titanium Industries, please visit titanium.com. Thank you again. Thanks everyone for being here, and Greg, really appreciate your time today.

Greg Himstead (24:56.558)
Thank you very much, Andrya.