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A Look Back - 30 years in the making

[We had a series of articles written for High Performance Alloys (HPA) as a reflection of the roots of the company, and early achievements - this is one such article.]

The Very Beginning

  Starting a company is difficult, but starting a company in the middle of a trying economic recession is just crazy. That bit of crazy made the small company of High Performance Alloys a stable leader in the industry for the past 30 years. 
Mr.Kirchner spent the better part of his early years learning from various places, whether it was school, internships, or work. He spent time at companies across the midwest including Monsanto and Union Carbide. It’s at Union Carbide where he started to step into his own. Union Carbide division was bought by Cabot and called the Stellite division. At Cabot, he had stated to the company that they were missing business on the small orders that customers required. He saw potential in these small orders. 

    When it was time for layoffs at the company, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He decided to go have a talk with human resources. “I told them I lost faith in management,” Mr. Kirchner said. Layoffs weren’t out of the ordinary, as the industry typically sees highs and lows on a seven-year cycle, but this time it was different. As a marketing boss of several people he’d grown close to, it was hard to see them go and he would not name people to leave. That next day, he was called into the office and let go. Cella Kirchner said “First of all, I was more afraid when he came home and said that he was ‘let go'. That meant more than starting a company.” Fear is a powerful force to incite change. For Cella Kirchner, that fear existed from the beginning, but her husband had a vision for the future and was determined to reach it.

  It was a turning point for Mr.Kirchner but he was ready. For the past few months he started to work on a business plan. His wife was going to help with the financial side of the company. It was nerve racking, but the Kirchners had interest from some of the customers he had helped at his previous place of employment. The partnership would be the start of a long and prosperous business.

The late 1990s

  Take one look at the Kirchners and it’s easy to dismiss them for “typical Midwesterners, but go a little deeper and see there is much more to them than meets the eye. Mr.Kirchner know his metals and spending just five minutes talking to him about the subject and any ignorant person would be left in the dust. The small Indiana-based company was the idea of Russ Kirchner, a metallurgist and salesman. High Performance Alloys specializes in working with metal alloys that are incredibly resistant to corrosion and wear and completing small orders in a fast, timely manner.

   Mr. Kirchner wasn’t a typical business owner either, due to the fact that he was doing a lot of the work on some of the orders. Performing well on the sales side, but also making the routing sheets, purchasing materials for projects and having the material tested. His favorite projects over the years involved the use of Nitronic 60. He’s not the type to sit in the office, instead opting to get his hands dirty. He attributes this to his desire to solve problems.

  Over time, an interesting problem came to the table. The company was beginning to see it’s fair share of work and received multiple offers to be bought out. However, the Kirchners wanted to instead keep the business in the family. Russ and Cella Kirchner have three sons, in which they wanted to pass the company down.
Russ Kirchner III specializes in accounting and financials, much like his mother, Cella. David Kirchner excelled at the IT side of the day-to-day work. Jeff Kirchner had success in sales early on, along with doing some manufacturing in the company. Each of the boys covered a different area of the company, allowing specialization of tasks.

2010 and beyond

  The boys  look forward to seeing the company grow and how to take the company to into larger growth in the next ten years. The ideas to expand the growth of the company include acquiring more machines and becoming more efficient through the use of technology. High Performance Alloys has been in business for 30+ years now, since its humble beginnings in 1984. The future is no longer in Russ and Cella’s hands, but instead the three sons. It’s an exciting future where enormous growth is possible. 

  High Performance Alloys’ products include metal alloys from the Nitronic family including Nitronic 50 and 60. The other products carried include cobalt and nickel based alloys, along with the Hastelloy and Inconel family of alloys. These alloys can be forged and ordered in plate, sheet or bar form. These metals are suited to withstand incredibly high stress environments, extreme corrosion, extreme cold and hot temperatures. High Performance Alloys has excelled in the ability to push product out the door fast and creating an ease of mind for their customers. High Performance Alloys sometimes deals with research and development projects, but also helps companies that don’t need large quantities of product.

   HPAs' metals are currently being used all over the world as well as in space. Projects like the Brooklyn Bride restoration and the metals for the Hoover Dam are just to name a few. HPA has metals on several Mars rovers as well as the International Space Station. Despite the small roots, High Performance Alloys has been involved with large scale projects.