In today’s business environment the number of companies that can claim an 88 year heritage in pioneering of advanced materials and systems are few. HITCO has maintained its Los Angeles base while playing a key role in the development of the nation’s aerospace, defense and composite materials industries.
Founded in 1922 by Harry I. Thompson, formed a company know as “Thompson Glass and Paint Company”. The company sold window glass, plate glass and mirrors.
In 1943 the company name was changed to H.I. Thompson Company, later in 1953 to H. I. Thompson Fiber Glass. Then in 1966 the name was shortened to HITCO, a title which made display on the New York Stock Exchange board simpler.
HITCO was a publicly owned company from this time until 1969 when it was purchased in whole by ARMCO Steel. 1997 brought a new owner as it was purchased by SGL GROUP, the largest supplier of advanced carbon and graphite applications in the world, and renamed HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc.
H. I. Thompson acquired the Dumont Company located in San Rafael, California in February 1961. Prior to its move to Gardena, Dumont fabricated rocket nozzles, exitcones and employed some 100 people. They were recognized by the industry as pioneers in design and fabrication of high temperature ablative components for missile and rockets. Programs that were brought to Gardena include the 120 inch Titan 3C exitcone, Polaris, Nike-Zeus, Minute Man first stage and designed and manufactured the Surveyor (moon landing) exitcone.
The current Gardena facility was owned and operated first by Zenith Plastics, fabricating radomes and commercially marketed and fabricated fiber glass chairs. In 1956 the 3M Company purchased and operated it until H.I. Thompson bought the plant in 1961 then consolidated Dumont along with other of his facilities located in and around the Los Angeles area. Part of this consolidation included moving several large autoclaves, hydroclaves and press molding equipment to the newly acquired Gardena facility.
Since the beginning, HITCO has grown from the single product line (glass and mirrors) to a company that provides a wide range of commercial and defense reinforced plastic and metal products. The move to our current location in 1961 many diverse products have been fabricated here, although our heart and soul has been aerospace products. The financial split in 1961 was reported as 24% insulation materials (Fiber & Materials Division), 15% commercial products (insulation, caskets and chairs), and 61% aerospace (Atlas, Minute Man, Titan, Polaris, Surveyor, Nike-Zeus, etc.).
In addition to the design and fabrication of the Surveyor exitcone that was first landed on the moon, plus both the ascent and descent exitcones for the man landing on the moon. These man landing exitcones were used also on the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) for the Apollo program.
The outer hull sections of the Navy’s first Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV mini sub), the Polaris Pop-up Closures (currently known as D-5 Closures), submarine domes (637) and the L-1011 interiors and lavatories were all new products during the late 60’s and early 70’s. We also made a major switch to large metal fabrication of the first Terminal Island autoclave and lay-up fixtures for the 637 and 688 domes. Attach rings, foundation rings and holding fixtures were also fabricated during the start of our very successful Marine Product Line.
Through the years we have also fabricated heat shields for the C-4 and D-5 missiles. HITCO also produced the flexseal assembly for the D-5 missile.
The high temperature facility originally started to support ablative products was later expanded in the late 70’s for the products of both aircraft and racing brakes.
From the experience developed during production of the L-1011 products, HITCO developed the aircraft interior wide body upgrade kits to be known as CERI (Contemporary Enclosed Rack Interior). The 767 Flap Track Fairings were another result of our experiences in commercial structures which has gone on in time to become one of our current longest running continuous production programs since its inception in 1975. Later in 1995 new opportunities opened to build the C-17 Tail Cone along with other major structure continued to build the satisfaction of our customers. 2007 with the inception of the Boeing 787 followed by Lockheed Martin F-35 has provided new and rewarding challenges to HITCO as we undertake the fabrication of the floor beams, wing & nacelle skins and other related structures.
Today: HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc. produces a wide variety of fiber glass, carbon, graphite composites products combined with Insulation products and materials to meet the elevated temperature that industry demands, Our diversified business has recently been oriented to integrate SGL GROUP’s core competency in carbon with our existing composites technology. This synergy has created unparalleled business opportunities in several markets. We have businesses in many aspects of the aerospace industry as well as commercial customers. Our testing and laboratory facilities including the Process Development Laboratory is used to develop and test material performance, include the Advanced Radiographic Facility which is state-of-the art, as well as numerous product development and research lab facilities, This combined with the recent advancement into the field of Automation has stimulated our abilities and placed the name of HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc. into the leadership roll into the 21st Century of composite manufacturing.