Company succeeds through 100 years of change

Created in 1905 in response to the soaring successes of the lumber industry in the area, Keystone Friction Hinge Company, at 520 Matthews Boulevard in South Williamsport, has had to evolve with over 100 years of change.

Keystone Friction Hinge started as a metal stamping company making friction hinges and furniture hardware for the furniture factories in the area, said Edward Hannan, president of the company.

When Hannan started as an engineer with the company in 1970, it was undergoing a major change.

“Our biggest shift was in the customer base about 40 years ago,” Hannan explained.

The biggest problem the company has faced over the years has been customers going out of business, importing their goods or moving overseas, Hannan said.

“The country has lost half a million manufacturing jobs in the last 12 years and the federal government has personal responsibility to keep these jobs,” he said.

As a solution to the beginning of the changing economy 40 years ago, the company is no longer heavily involved in the consumer market, but manufactures or assembles components used by other companies that make finished products like Maytag, Hannan said. “What we do is find a manufacturer who needs a part or assembly of a part and we make what they want,” he said.

When Hannan started, the list of what they could make for buyers was much narrower and the company was still very much concentrated on furniture, he said.

The company now has a broad catalogue of items they can make like valves, the mechanism on school lockers, wire brushes and scaffolding, but it all depends on the buyer’s needs, Hannan said.

Williamsport has been a good place for the historical success of the company because it’s a good location for transportation and there is a solid employee base, Hannan said.

The process at Keystone Friction Hinge for any of their many products starts when large coils of raw metal are shipped to the factory.

Those coils are then used to make whatever the company ordered, Hannan said.

Keystone Friction Hinge Company has a fully operational tool and die shop, working from concept through prototyping to full production.

The company has a fully-equipped traditional machine shop offering complete tooling support that has been updated throughout its many years in the area.

Despite the advancements in machinery in the shop, many of the pieces the company makes are still touched by human hands whether it be assembly or the final fold, Hannan said.

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