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Nuts & bolts operation

In the skies or on the ocean floor, Mahwah's Hytorc able to keep it together

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Jason Junkers, director of marketing, Hytorc, holding the company's Z-Gun hydraulic torque wrench.
Jason Junkers, director of marketing, Hytorc, holding the company's Z-Gun hydraulic torque wrench. - (AARON HOUSTON)

The freestanding, two-story building on Route 17 that houses Hytorc's headquarters does little to convey the reach of a company that literally helps keep things together all over the world — from pipelines to roller coasters to a NASA space shuttle.

It's what the Mahwah-based firm has been doing for 45 years as a maker of industrial bolting tools, using engineers to design its product lines and custom equipment for clients such as power plants and refineries.

"It's something that not everybody is aware of or thinks about, but bolts and nuts are everywhere," said Jason Junkers, Hytorc's director of marketing and the son of company founder John Junkers. "Everything is held together with them."

The company, which has about 75 employees in New Jersey, spent its first 35 years building and refining hydraulic-fueled torque wrenches, Junkers said. Around 2008, it began to offer air-powered tools born from five years of research and development.

But Hytorc is now ready to take another step, with plans to introduce high-profile, high-impact new products such as an electric bolting gun, Junkers said. The company expects to start producing its first lineup of the new equipment early next year, offering a tool that he said will be more portable and convenient for bolting.

With its products constantly evolving, a key to Hytorc's success through the years has been the group of independent salespeople who peddle the bolting products. Junkers said there are hundreds around the world selling not only the company's most popular tools, but also custom solutions that might be required in settings such as wind farms.

That's one major reason the Hytorc team in New Jersey includes about 15 engineers, who are often tapped to collaborate with engineers who work for their buyers.

As the independent salespeople go, the company is not looking for anyone interested in a 9 to 5 job, Junkers said. Rather, Hytorc wants the ambitious, entrepreneurial types who are "are willing to dedicate their life to this" and learn the products cold.

"If you're working with a power plant or refinery (where) they're tightening a reactor, and something goes wrong in the middle of the night, they need to call somebody and have that person there," he said. "So it's pretty important that the person is dedicated enough and really treats it as their own business."

It was a North Jersey-based salesman who took Hytorc to the top — at least, to the top of the tallest building in the country.

About two years ago, planners with the One World Trade Center project tapped New York metropolitan-area representative Reid Hensen to provide a bolting system for the tower's 408-foot spire and its 14 communication rings.

The section had hundreds of bolts, and it was a project that started at more than 1,000 feet in the air. So for Hytorc, Junkers said the question was: "How do we figure out what tools we're going to use, and how much torque we need to put on these?"

The result was an engineering plan developed by Hytorc, giving way to the set of hydraulic and air-powered bolting tools that contractors used to install the outsized antenna, he said.

Hytorc's biggest clients are in refineries and power plants, but Junkers said another key area is wind power in markets such as Sweetwater, Texas. He estimates that one wind turbine has about 1,500 bolts and nuts, most of them in hard-to-reach areas sometimes hundreds of feet in the air.

Wind power is "probably the primary reason" Hytorc developed its new electric bolting gun, as maintenance workers need a lighter, more portable tool when they're scaling a turbine. The tool can simply be plugged into outlets at the top of the windmill, he said, making it far more practical than raising a hydraulic pump or carrying an air line up the ladder.

The next frontier: the mining industry.

Junkers said Hytorc has brought on experts from the sector to help work with heavy equipment such as rock crushers and Caterpillar vehicles, which go through "extreme vibrations and temperature changes."

The business is "something we're trying to focus on more now because we know that we've developed some great solutions, and it's been very limited."

"We could have one guy in an area that's helped them optimize all of their bolting jobs, but a couple towns over they're still putting wrenches on there and beating it with a hammer," he said. "And then they wonder why it comes loose in a few months."

E-mail to: joshb@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @joshburdnj

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Joshua Burd

Joshua Burd

Josh Burd covers real estate, economic development and sports and entertainment. Before joining NJBIZ in 2011, he spent four years as a metro reporter in Central Jersey. His email is joshb@njbiz.com and he is @JoshBurdNJ on Twitter.

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