Case Studies

H.M. White LLC

Innovation to Help Clients Save Time and Money
  • Written by: H.M. White LLC
  • Produced by: H.M. White LLC
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Harold Morris founded H.M. White LLC (HMW) in 1936 providing paint finishing solutions to manufacturers across the country. The Detroit-based company is a leader in the sheet metal fabrication and clean-air engineering industry.


Morris passed the business down to the next generation and today his grandson, Bill White, serves as chairman of HMW. Originally White attended law school and worked for an accounting firm. In 1974, he transitioned into his family’s company.


“I have an outgoing personality,” he says. “I realized I don’t like being chained to a desk.” Instead, White uses his social skills and creativity to move the business forward.


“There’s a creative part to our business when bidding jobs,” adds White. “A lot of times projects are not awarded on specifications. Sometimes we have to meet a price range to be awarded a job.”


Throughout the history of the company, HMW has faced a lot of changes. When Morris started the business, his focus was on industrial ovens used to bake paint onto parts. By the 1960s, the company had to adapt to demands. This included adding dust collection and air pollution control to services offered.


Today the company continues to offer paint finishing, dust collection and air pollution control systems. What sets HMW apart from its competitors though is the company’s ability to produce new equipment and also refurbish old equipment.


“A lot of our work is refurbishment that involves older equipment that is either worn out or obsolete,” says White. “It’s easier to go in and do it all new, but refurbishing is a skill.


“A lot of equipment, if improved, can last another 10 years,” he adds. “That’s what clients are interested in doing. They’re not interested in building new.”


Building an Industry


The majority of HMW’s work is within the automotive industry. The company offers services such as automotive spray booths and paint finishing systems, industrial ventilation, industrial sheet metal contractors, strand air house repair, strand air house modifications and upgrades, as well as turnkey design.


Employees of HMW work within the automotive industry’s manufacturing plants and paint shops. The company works to install all paint and processing equipment and subcontracts trades such as electrical, plumbing and painting.


“All the processes in a plant create heat and/or smoke,” explains White. “We have to take that away from workers and filter it and bring fresh air to the workers. It’s a nice business to be in because everything they touch involves us. We’re protecting the workers’ health, protecting the environment and we’re helping make a better quality car.”


Cars on the road today are the result of HMW’s reach of protecting workers, the environment and the ultimate product. The company works with the major American-made motor companies and some overseas companies with plants in North America.


Recently HMW completed a $24 million project with Ford Motors. HMW rebuilt all the ovens to bake paint on parts in the company’s Flatrock, Mich., assembly plant. The refurbishment required HMW to change the equipment capabilities — allowing for a three-step paint process including primer, paint and a clear coat — all while keeping in mind an energy efficient outcome.


Even though motor companies took a hit during the most recent economic recession, White explains there may be fewer plants, but there is more work for his company. “We’ve been very busy last few years,” he says. “They closed so many of the plants and the plants that remained open have to produce more than one model. Automotive companies had to retrofit plants to produce several models.”


If companies weren’t concerned about retrofitting, they were concerned about energy efficiency to save money. White reports while some plants were being refurbished, others were being overhauled to improve production. In Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., HMW worked with General Motors to optimize air circulation.


Some work is also geared toward eliminating physical labor. White points out a number of plants have been completed to include robots that handle painting and welding. However, even though robots are involved, ventilation still comes into play, as well as energy efficiency. Jobs like this become full circle for HMW.


Handing Off to the Fourth Generation


After more than 40 years in the business, White is close to retirement. White’s son-in-law, Nick Colone, is now part owner of HMW and is preparing to take over the business with a few other partners.


The company has seen business ebb and flow over the years. White feels the ups and downs run on a five-year cycle. At this point in time, the company is dewing well. “We had to shrink a bit with the recession,” says White. “But now there are fewer competitors and more work.”


While fitting a plant entirely with new equipment is a large job, refurbishing a plant and its equipment has become HMW’s niche. White foresees the company will continue down this route for the next few years with repeat business and additional plants needing work. Regardless of new installations or refurbishing, H.M. White LLC will remain an industry leader.


For more information about H.M. White LLC, please visit:


Published on: September 11, 2013

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