History of PMF
Originally published by the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce.
It all started in 1950, when Svensk Metallforadling (Swedish Metal Refining Co.) sent Birger H. Engzell as vice-president and general manager to Brooklyn, New York, to establish an American subsidiary, Steelex. The company manufactured specialty stainless steel produced using the unique flow-turning method. At first, Steelex produced cones for television tubes, but successful expansion into pans and components for jet engines, the food industry, and pulp and paper manufacturing created a need for more space in a better location.
In 1955 Engzell visited numerous sites in the eastern United States before narrowing the field to Pennsylvania, where "several cities competed considerably" for the company relocation. Williamsport interested Engzell "because of its cultural advantages, appealing living conditions, supply of skilled labor, availability of service industries, and because it is close to our raw materials."
The Industrial Development Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Properties Corporation, and the Williamsport Foundation all worked to make the move possible. Four shovels of cornfield dirt were turned on Thanksgiving weekend 1955. The ceremony launched Williamsport's Industrial Park and the genesis of PMF Industries, Inc. Steelex opened for production the following spring.
In 1958 and 1960 the Swedish parent company placed Steelex on the market while it considered returning the subsidiary to Sweden. Engzell offered to purchase the firm. Because of the uncertainty and indecisiveness of the parent concern, Engzell resigned. Customers who wanted to retain their source of quality stainless and heat-resistant precision metal formings, and local interests who wanted to preserve jobs, encouraged Engzell to stay in this area and begin his own enterprise. It all became a reality on March 1, 1961.
Five thousand square feet of space was leased from Williamsport Die and Machine Company at 910 Park Street. Mrs. Engzell, who assisted her husband with various tasks in getting the business started, suggested the name "Precision Metal Forming" since it so aptly described the company process.
Business grew, and in the summer of 1964, with the help of the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, construction began on an 18,000-square-foot building on a four-acre plot on Reach Road. The work force had grown to 35, and a dozen more employees were hired when the building was occupied in the spring of 1965.
Between 1968 and 1975 John T. Detwiler was a partner in the firm and served as vice-president. In early 1969 PMF purchased the equipment and remaining inventory of Steelex, which had by that time changed owners several times and was closing its operation. In order to accommodate the extra equipment, a 15,000-square-foot addition was built. In early 1973 a second addition of 12,880 square feet was completed to provide for two new large presses.