Largest cartridge valve manufacturer in Lincolnshire set to expand
HydraForce President Jim Brizzolara is shown holding a hydraulic cartridge valve at the business on Friday, March 8, 2013, in Lincolnshire. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2013 2:11AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Jim Brizzolara jokes that he didn’t even know how to spell “hydraulics” when he got his first job in the industry many years ago.
Having been president and CEO of HydraForce for nearly 30 years now, the word has since become just about everything he stands for, along with others like “electro-hydraulic,” “manifolds” and “cartridge valves,” to name a few.
“Cartridge valves are valves that are used to control hydraulic pressure, flow and direction—they tell a machine what to do, how hard to do it and how fast,” Brizzolara said.
The cartridge valves they produce are made for off-road equipment used in construction, agriculture and material handling—for example, they play a key role in the functions performed by aerial lifts and lawnmowers.
While the average consumer’s understanding of the company’s product is likely similar to what Brizzolara said he knew going in, Lincolnshire residents might be interested to know that HydraForce is the largest in its industry.
“In 1999, we became the largest cartridge manufacturer in the world,” Brizzolara said, adding that HydraForce’s sales grew at a 15 percent compounded annual rate from 2002 to 2012.
HydraForce was recently featured on the Fox Business Network’s show “Manufacturing Marvels” as the leading supplier of high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves, custom manifolds and electro-hydraulic controls.
Fox’s John Criswell said that HydraForce’s collaborative approach sets it apart as an industry leader.
“What distinguishes HydraForce from other manufacturers—and here’s what’s really cool—is their collaborative approach: They believe that better performance comes from working together to create customized solutions,” Criswell said on the show.
For instance, HydraForce’s i-Design Hydraulic System Design Software allows clients to be directly involved in the design of their hydraulic integrated circuit, or manifold, which combine a number of hydraulic functions into a smaller space to increase efficiency.
Today, the company has locations in Birmingham, England and in Changzhou, China, and more than 1,000 employees worldwide. Around 700 of its employees work in Lincolnshire.
Brizzolara said the Lincolnshire-headquartered company is currently in the process of a major expansion that will move 100 of its engineering, sales and marketing staff into a 142,000-square-foot Innovation and Technology Center in Vernon Hills’ Corporate Woods in April.
HydraForce’s new Vernon Hills facility, according to Brizzolara, will be the epicenter of its product research, development and testing efforts.
“It is the most significant investment in the history of our company and will allow us to bring new hydraulic, electronic, and electro-hydraulic system technologies to market better and faster than anyone else in the world,” he said.
The seemingly economically-resilient company is expected to increase its sales by more than double what they are today.