Yankee Hill Ingenuity
In Gun World’s June issue, editor Craig Hodgkins spoke with YHM on keeping everything in the family from design and machining, to assembly and sales.
In an age of business conglomerates and growing corporate ownership, it can be surprising to come across a business still held—and run—by members of a founding family. That is exactly the case with the Yankee Hill Machine Company, Inc. (YHM). YHM was established in 1951 when Wallace Judd & James Graham followed through on their dream of owning & operating a machining facility. In 1991, James’ son, following in his father’s footsteps, purchased the business. Since then, YHM has made significant equipment upgrades and expanded their product lines, a move which has solidified their position as a leader in the machining industry.
Recently, Gun World had a conversation with YHM’s Matt Hebert, and he provided us with more detail about the company, their products, and some of their plans for the future.
Gun World: Describe what Yankee Hill Machine Company is all about.
Matt Hebert: YHM is all about making a quality American made product at a fair price and standing behind that product.
GW: What makes you guys unique in the machining industry?
MH: We are one of the few companies in the firearms business who can say that they design, machine, assemble and sell their own product. Many companies purchase their parts from a variety of manufacturers and assemble them. YHM is able to control the design and quality of the product all the way from the drawing board to the finished product.
GW: What are the keys to your longevity?
MH: We have a broad and varied product line. From accessories, to complete rifles and even sound suppressors, we make them all and we make them affordable.
GW: When a business stays in the family, how does that impact its success?
MH: Keeping the business in the family has a very positive effect. The business doesn’t get bogged down with trying to please a room full of board members. Instead, we can focus on making quality products and making them for less than the competition.
GW: On your Website, you talk about technology and making significant upgrades. What are the types of changes made, and how important is it to make these upgrades?
MH: YHM is constantly making upgrades to equipment and manufacturing processes. We try to automate as many processes as possible to increase output and keep costs low. This low cost to manufacture can then be passed along to the consumer. YHM utilizes: EDM machining, laser engraving and automated welding as well as various other methods to manufacture our products.
GW: How many new products do you churn out each year?
MH: Obviously this may vary year to year, but on average we develop between four and six new part numbers every year. We usually try to keep a good balance between the product lines so that one doesn’t suffer for another. Often times we may not debut a completely new product, but we will have improved upon our previous design. A good example of this is our Phantom M2 series of sound suppressors. The part number is the same, but the design is significantly different.
GW: What are your day-to-day operations like? For example, is your factory open around the clock?
MH: YHM currently operates on two shifts from 7:30 AM to 12:00 AM Monday through Friday.
GW: Take us inside an executive meeting. How do you decide which products are developed, and the timeframe to make them available to the public?
MH: Being a family owned business we are constantly hashing out new ideas. We sit down with our father and decide what products we think will sell and how quickly we can get them to market. Most family dinners end up being business meetings. We look at our customer base and see what people are asking for or what they want to see improved.
GW: How has the climate around guns impacted your business?
MH: Just like every other company in this business, we are very productive right now. What we have tried not to do is overreact to the current political climate. We will continue to stay the course and keep manufacturing our products.
GW: What changes do you foresee in the next five years?
MH: We plan to grow the business with new equipment purchases and new manufacturing techniques that will allow us to stay ahead of the game in manufacturing. We also hope to grow our accessory line into different areas in the shooting sports industry.
GW: What else comes to mind?
MH: We plan to attend more gun shows each year, so keep a look out for the YHM booth.
For more information go to: www.yhm.net.