Three-quarters of a century is a strong testament to the spirit of entrepreneurship that was sparked by Walter Pesaresi in 1948. Four generations later and the business he started, Winamac Coil Spring (WCS), is still going strong, and this year the staff members are recognizing the 75th anniversary of its founding.
Today Walter’s grandchildren are the owners of WCS, including Gene Huber Jr., Dan Pesaresi Jr., Chad Huber, Anthony Pesaresi and Andrew Pesaresi. Each takes on a different role within the business.
Walter was employed at Muehlhausen Spring Company in Logansport, and wanted to move up within the company. Seeing no path there, he joined with several partners to establish WCS.
“Ironically, two of Walter’s brothers did not choose to follow in his vision and finished out their careers at their existing employer,” Anthony Pesaresi says.
While WCS is thriving today, in the early years that was not the case. Growth was slow to come. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the company began to grow and thrive. One reason for this spurt is attributed to Dan Pesaresi Sr., Walter’s oldest son. Dan Sr. brought his business education into the business to complement Walter’s coil-making skills.
“Other pivotal family members joined the organization within the same decade,” Pesaresi says. “Vic Montz, Gene Huber Sr., Barb Huber and Joe Pesaresi each came in to fill needed roles within the growing organization.”
That growth was focused on serving the needs of customers in several varied industries including the military, railroad, appliance and agriculture. This required out-of-the-box thinking to accommodate the needs of customers. Pesaresi says the ingenuity of family and non-family team members helped solve customer problems with engineering, manufacturing and timely delivery of parts. Customer satisfaction was established with this approach, he says.
Growth also meant expansion. By 1957 the original small shop operation in Winamac was not meeting the manufacturing needs of WCS.
As Pesaresi tells it, Walter began looking for options and was approached by the Kewanna Progressive Association about moving the entire business to a vacant building in Kewanna.
“They offered the labor and equipment to repair the building, as well as move all of Walt’s equipment,” Pesaresi says.
The company remained in that location for several years before acquiring property back in Winamac. At that time the wire-form equipment and personnel were relocated from Kewanna to Winamac, creating a separate division. All spring types continue to be manufactured at the Kewanna facility.
Innovation is one of the reasons that the business has survived through decades of change. One example Pesaresi shares is how Walter figured out how to manufacture a spring with a longer length than what machines were able to produce.
“Walt physically cut the machine in half, and built the framework to stretch it out to satisfy the customers’ needs,” he says. “This mindset has continued today with application of custom machinery, robotics and innovative spring design. Partnering right along with the mechanical innovation is the attention to customer service and the customers’ ever-evolving needs. Communications and responsiveness are trademarks of growth of WCS within our industry.”
When multiple generations are involved in the same business, interacting on a day-to-day basis, there can be challenges. Sometimes personalities do not blend well. Pesaresi says the WCS team learned early to stress the value of each person, recognizing that everyone brings specific skills that adapt to different functions.
“Every company has a need to fill essential roles,” he says. “Coupling this with family passion brings advantages of sense of responsibility, integrity, hard work and community commitment.”
The founders of the business, Walter and Theresa Pesaresi, were both first-generation U.S. citizens whose parents immigrated from Italy. The family lived in the Logansport and Peru area while working for a railroad company. Multiple generations of the Pesaresi family continue to live in and support the surrounding communities of Winamac, Plymouth, Kewanna and Rochester.
The company’s longevity is due to the 180 employees who work there today, as well as those working side by side with the founders and family.
“Too numerous to mention are those that applied ideas, and brought passion with them that has maintained the company’s longevity – customers have come and gone over the years, but the realization that WCS partners with its customers to sustain a relationship of trust that breeds success,” Pesaresi says.