WILLETT CELEBRATES 80 YEARS OF METALFORMING SERVICES
M. S. Willett, Inc. is celebrating 80 years of serving the metalforming industry. The company has experienced
continued growth since it was founded in 1929 by Moses Showell Willett. Willett started as a tool & die
company in Baltimore, Maryland building specialty machines to produce various types of closures for the light
metal packaging industry. Willett is now involved in all phases of the manufacturing process from part design
through product development to complete turnkey systems, including tooling, transfer systems, contract metal
stampings, and CNC metal fabrication for the appliance, automotive, electrical, hardware, light metal
packaging, and pharmaceutical industries.
Moses Showell Willett was a tool & die maker specializing in the light metal packaging business and worked for
a number of Baltimore area can companies. In late 1929 Mr. Willett was approached by the owner of Columbia
Specialty Company to take over the operation of his machine shop and run it as an independent business.
Columbia Specialty produced primarily closures, screw caps and slip fit cans.
During WWII, Willett purchased its own facility and made tools for water canteens, ammunition belts, mess kits,
gas mask canisters, etc.
It was in the 1950’s that Willett launched into the metal stamping business, primarily stamping metal hardware
for inexpensive furniture and kitchen dinette sets. The Tool & Die Department was active with metal packaging
dies and special machines.
The pattern of growth continued as Willett expanded its engineering capabilities, apprentice training and plant
facilities in response to the ever-increasing demand for its products and services. Willett moved to a new
facility in Cockeysville, MD. Willett is still located in Cockeysville with two plants totaling over 60,000 sq. ft.
In the 1960’s, in response to the industry’s need for quality mechanisms to transfer stamped parts between
tooling stations at high speeds, the Willett transfer was developed. J. L. Clark Company, a leading producer of
packaging for the spice can industry, came to Willett needing to economically produce steel tops for spice
cans. Willett developed the method of transferring these can tops from die station to die station using cam
actuated mechanisms mounted to the die set. These systems were operated at 100 strokes per minute and
were faster than anything available.
Based on Willett’s background in the light metal packaging industry and tooling work, Willett was approached
by several can companies. Reynolds Metals Company had recently established a can manufacturing
machinery division and was looking for a company to manufacture easy open end conversion machines.
Willett tooled several presses as well as designed and built a number of different types of tab dies for
Reynolds. The Coors Container Company approached Willett for the production of their new style easy open
can ends. This was Willett’s true entry into stamping systems design and manufacturing – to supply the press,
tooling, transfer mechanism and all auxiliary equipment. Coors purchased 42 machines from Willett.
In the 1970’s Willett found new markets for its high speed in press transfer system. Willett’s first experience
with the automotive industry involved the transfer of automobile engine rocker arms through a die which
performed secondary operations after the basic part had been formed in a progressive die. Willett also
designed and built a system to assemble oil filter tapped plate and retainer for filter end assemblies. They
supplied a production line to produce the filter end assemblies. The first of several integrated multi-press
systems was built for Kwikset Lock Company, (a subsidiary of Black & Decker) to produce one-piece aluminum
and brass door knobs.
In the 1980’s, Willett’s Production Department expanded bringing in new metal stamping business. They took
over manufacturing of the majority of metal stampings that Black & Decker was manufacturing at its
Hampstead, MD plant. Well over 1,000 dies were delivered to Willett. Harley-Davidson approached Willett for a
similar program with over 700 dies. Willett’s Tool & Die Department developed a number of new transfers,
including the Willett Quick-Change transfer (cam actuated mechanical transfer), Customizer (lower cost
transfer), Technotransfer (lower cost cam actuated unit), Transrobot (in press and press-to-press operation)
and Servo Transfer.
Willett continued to supply the light metal packaging industry. Willett entered into a technology agreement with
National Steel (Weirton Steel) to tool certain types of steel safety fold easy -open “ring-pull” ends for beverage
containers. In 1990 Willett delivered its first production machine used to make steel easy open “ring-pull” can
ends, which implemented the unique Weirton Steel Triple Fold Safety Edge Technology. In keeping with
Willett’s philosophy to provide quality and leading edge technology, tooling processes were developed for
production of non-round tapered “nest-able” can bodies for seafood products. The first high-speed line for ¼
dingley (sardine) can bodies was delivered in 2000. This three press turnkey line produces 900 cans per
In 2003 Willett received the PMA (Precision Metalforming Association) Award of Excellence in Productivity.
Willett had partnered with the customer to improve the manufacturing processes through innovative tooling
design that incorporated a tapping operation and stamping of the reinforcement plate. Also introduced was a
metal insertion fastening method that eliminated the spot welding operation. This created a labor and cost
reduction for the customer.
In 2005 under new ownership Willett continues to be a privately owned manufacturing and engineering
company. Willett continues to grow and enter into new markets.
In 2006 Willett developed an 'Electronic' strip feed. The Tool & Die Department designed and built a new die
to produce floor pedestals. The Production Department ran the production. Production was run on the original
die in 1986. The Production Department added CNC metal fabrication to its list of capabilities.
In 2007 WIllett is ISO 9001.200 registered.
In 2008 Designed and built specialty workcell for the manufacture of industrial ladder type wire trays. Tool &
Die Department receives Mazak Integrex 200 IV for all around precision machining.
Willett has been and will continue to be the premier source for metalforming requirements. Willett can design
and build the system for the customer to produce the parts or can produce the parts to their specifications.
Willett's Tool & Die Department provides engineering and development support services, part transfer and
automation mechanisms, complete turn-key production systems, replacement tooling and systems integration
for a variety of metal parts. Willett's Production Department is a full service manufacturer of contract metal
stampings, CNC metal fabrication and assemblies; our services include in-die tapping, robotic MIG welding,
spot welding and many value added services. Willett is ISO 9001-2000 Registered.
Willett has an 80 year history of meeting customer needs through high quality, on time deliveries, innovative
designs and products that last.
M. S. WILLETT, INC. 220 Cockeysville Road / Cockeysville, MD 21030 / Tel. 410-771-0460 / Fax 410-771-6972 / Email: email@example.com