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History of Katy Spring & Mfg. Inc. Part 1

The history of companies is built by many short stories; some boring, some not. We’re going to try and tell the not-so-boring ones (in our humble opinion) about Katy Spring & Mfg., Inc.; a company in Katy Texas that started with an initial conversation that ended something like this; “Why not.”

These are the stories about Katy Spring, small bits of a bigger story that started in 1999. The stories are still unfolding new chapters, thanks to our wonderful customers, every day. It’s written for our customers and future customers so that they can get to know our company, our employees, some historical background, and philosophy a little better.

The stories are not told in chronological order. This blog is more of a “Readers Digest” about Katy Spring, written in whatever random order they appear. So without further ado, let’s get started with our first read which will be titled; “The Snake.”

The Snake

In 2000, Katy Spring & Mfg. had three shifts. The owners; James West, Scott Pitney and Mark West, worked all three shifts. Third shift was the best, because it ran on autopilot. If we were confident a machine could run a job all night without messing up, we would let it run, waking up every couple of hours to check on it. If it messed up, the noise from the coiler served just fine in sounding its own alarm, much like a crying baby.

At that time, the company had moved to its second location on Morton Rd., about half the distance between Katy and Brookshire. It was a two thousand square foot building surrounded by rice fields. The rice fields, then full of wildlife, are now a housing development featuring a water skiing mote around the community. It was sad to see the cattle go…they were nice to have around as we didn’t have many visitors.

One evening, thinking second shift; James was making a very long spring on the spring lathe. Mark and Scott were in the office, probably preparing and planning for third shift. The intense planning session was interrupted by James’ voice, “Guys, can you give me a hand here?” which was odd. (Sarcasm alert) As everyone knows the tougher work is in the office, and if anyone needed “a hand,” it was Mark and Scott…with their planning session. But I digress. So Mark and Scott stopped what they were doing to see what all the fuss was about in the shop.

When they entered the shop, Mark and Scott see James guiding the wire of this very long spring he was making while the spring lathe was turning and winding the spring. Manufacturers’ note; when a spring lathe is turning; never let go of the wire, or else prepare to be whipped by spring tempered steel…ouch! So James is holding this spring wire which is turning and moving further down the arbor, closer to a shoulderless reptile (about three feet…what the heck, why not call it ten foot ) long that had taken great interest, apparently, in what James was doing. There it sat, flicking its tong, watching, not backing away from its front-row spot.

If you’re a snake lover, now would be a good time to stop reading. Mark, being the good, younger brother of James, did not hesitate in coming up with a solution for James’ dilemma. He quickly grabbed what we call in the spring manufacturing business, a grinding plate. A grinding plate is a heavy metal plate used to hold springs as they rotate through the automatic spring grinders to be ground. They are not intended to cut the heads off of snakes…but they work quite well in doing so. Mark dropped the edge of the plate on the snakes head and James was relieved as the spring was now down to end of the arbor, which placed James’ feet about two feet from the snakes head. Problem solved.

As we say in the spring business, much of spring manufacturing is art, and Mark was creative, not to mention brave, in solving, what could have easily been a slow-down in production. Oh, and the word “brave” shouldn’t be mentioned without including James, who, in the face of danger, finished the spring. Now that’s customer service!

We had a snake funeral the next morning, during first shift. Then the shoulderless, and now headless reptile was returned to the pasture it came from to be recycled as a meal for another varmint.

Twelve years later, we are now at our fourth location on twenty acres, still surrounded by plenty of pasture holding untamed critters who may someday find themselves in a Katy Spring blog.

Continue reading to Part 2

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