For just shy of 50 years now, Semco Carbon has provided customers with graphite material in both raw and machined forms. With this milestone ahead of us in a couple of years (Semco was founded in 1971), we thought it would be a good time to look back on Semco’s history and trace the company’s arc from provider of raw carbon materials and simple graphite components to one of the most respected names in the graphite machining field.
The story of Semco begins with our founder Vince Thompson Jr. When Vince founded Semco is 1971, many of the technologies the company wields today, such as computer numerical control (CNC) tools, were in their infancy and had years to go before they were employed on a large scale in the manufacturing sector. Vince saw the company’s mission as providing quality raw graphite material to customers who machined the graphite themselves. The company also did some simple graphite machining. The components the company manufactured in the early 70s did not approach the complexity of the custom pieces Semco machines today for its customers. Vince focused the small company on doing its mission well, and Semco to this day remains an authority on graphite material, helping its customers select the precise grade and block of graphite to suit their purposes. In fact, Semco employees pride themselves on having the best eye for raw material in the business. Our machinists know graphite, and they are quick to spot flaws in blocks of raw material that could affect the final machined product.
Over its first twenty-five years, the company grew far beyond its roots as suppliers of raw material and simple components. In 1989, the company moved to Lorain, Ohio and set up a larger and more sophisticated machine shop. Vince Thompson III and Matt Thompson joined the company at this point and recognized the company’s potential to grow. Matt and Vince, the current owners of Semco, pushed the company into custom finished product sales. Semco machinists had developed the expertise to produce graphite components that met our clients’ very precise specs, and the new facility in Lorain provided more space for manufacturing, in addition to warehousing raw material the company still sold to clients. Matt and Vince led the company in its efforts to incorporate in-house CAD design and machining services to satisfy customer demands for more complex and larger machined components and assemblies. By 1995, Semco was so successful in these ventures that it doubled the size of its machining facilities to meet growing demand for custom graphite components.
The company’s growth continued apace up to and beyond Vince Thompson Jr’s retirement in 2010. At that point, Vince sold his shares in the company to the current owners, Vince III and Matt, who continued to take the company in exciting directions. They led the 2010 relocation of the company to its current manufacturing facility in Lorain, which was designed as a state-of-the-art graphite machining center. During the relocation to its new 45,000 square foot production facility, the company invested approximately $2 million in new facility upgrades, ERP/CAD software, and updated CNC machining centers
What Semco is most proud of is our people. Semco Carbon has grown to employee 35 people in Lorain (and several others in California) with an average tenure of over 10 years. That kind of employee retention means that Semco retains a vast amount of knowledge about graphite materials, knowledge that helps us plan and troubleshoot with our clients to produce the carbon components that keep their businesses humming.
Who knows what the coming decades hold in store for Semco. What we do know is that there is no graphite machining company around with greater expertise or experience. With our growth mindset, skilled employees, and hard-earned reputation, Semco looks set to continue leading the field of graphite machining for some time to come.