Any family business is a challenge, but Hol-Mac Corporation has been blessed since its founding by Charles B. Holder, Jr. in 1963. Starting as a three-person welding and machine shop, Hol-Mac now employs more than 800 people. It operates five facilities covering more than 55,740 m2 of manufacturing space, with headquarters in the small town of Bay Springs, Miss., 104 km southeast of Jackson. 

As a result of working with major OEMs in the mining, construction, agricultural and railroad industries, Hol-Mac embraced lean manufacturing principles, including 8 Wastes, 5S, Kaizen, Poka Yoke (mistake-proofing), point-of-use storage, Kanban and advanced product quality planning (APQP). In the late 1990s, Hol-Mac embarked on its own journey to become a world-class manufacturer. 

“We wanted to diversify to control our own destiny and grow job opportunities for our employees,” says Jamie Holder, president and COO. 


“We began developing our Pac-Mac® products for the solid waste and nonhazardous hauling industries in 1996.  Then in 2008, some of our employees who enjoyed four-wheeling designed what would become the Hammerhead® line of aftermarket bumpers for trucks and Jeep. These are robust, heavy-duty, premium products, yet our manufacturing efficiencies enable us to offer them at a competitive price.”

30 to 40% productivity increase

To manufacture the Pac-Mac product line, the company acquired a 8746 m2 facility on 14 acres, which it now calls Plant 3. The facility initially focused on machining, welding and assembly. Hol-Mac would bring in cut parts with a 4 kW Sirius 3015 Plus CO2 laser at Anel Corporation, a subsidiary located about 120 miles away. The growth of the Hammerhead line — which has experienced record sales every year since its introduction — required a different strategy, however. “In the aftermarket industry, customers want something the next day,” says Holder. “For build-to-order products, our maximum lead time is two to three weeks. Outsourcing doesn’t work. We had to have the ability to cut parts in-house, and do it accurately.”

In 2014, the company installed a 4 kW Sirius 3015 CO2 laser with 10-shelf Compact Tower (CT-L). As demand continued to grow, Hol-Mac decided to add a 6 kW Phoenix 4020 fiber laser, also with a 10-shelf Compact Tower, in 2018. The move would provide a back-up for the 20-year-old LVD Impuls laser at Anel, add a second laser that could cut 4000 x 2000 mm sheets - especially helpful for larger Pac-Mac truck parts - and increase overall productivity at Plant 3.

As a 6 kW machine, the Phoenix FL-4020 obviously cuts faster than our 4 kW unit,” says Holder. “In addition, the piercing is tremendously faster. On tests using 20 mm steel plate, we see a 30 to 40 percent productivity increase because the piercing is so much faster.”

“Without the LVD lasers, we wouldn’t be able to compete in the markets we’re in today,” states Holder.

“Our company growth, part quality and brand wouldn’t be as strong.” Holder says that all of the company’s lasers deliver superior cut quality and accuracy. Unlike plasma, a laser cut part requires no post-cut edge preparation, so parts can go straight to welding. The precision of laser cutting also produces better fit-up, which decreases weld time because there are no gaps to fill. Precision also enables Hol-Mac’s design engineers to incorporate slot-and-tab technology so that assemblies become self-aligning and self-fixturing. Slot-and-tab design reduces tooling costs and also helps mistake-proof assembly. “We sell craftsmanship, and customers value the fit-up and finish of our lasercut bumpers,” says Holder. “We design our aftermarket parts to follow the contours of a vehicle, and we want a consistent gap all the way around. That’s not normal on a lot of bumpers, but it’s expected on the Hammerhead.”

10-shelf towers

Hol-Mac primarily uses A572 Grade 50 steel, as well as some A514 steel, aluminium and stainless. Hol-Mac cuts material from 2.59 mm to 25 mm and annually processes millions of tons of steel. To help manage the load, Hol-Mac has equipped the lasers at Plant 3 with Compact Towers for storage of raw material and finished parts and automated sheet loading and unloading capabilities. The Compact Towers for the Sirius lasers can handle sheets up to 3050 x 1525 mm, and the Compact Tower for the Phoenix FL-4020 stores sheets up to 4000 x 2000 mm, which is rare according to Holder, as tower construction needs to be especially robust to handle material weights up to 2994 kg. 

“The flexibility of the Compact Tower works very well for our operation,” says Holder. “We can load the 10-shelf tower for the Phoenix with up to five different material grades or thicknesses and program the system via the Touch-L control. When it loads the steel from the tower into the machine, it knows what to cut.” 

To further streamline cutting efficiency, Hol-Mac integrates CADMAN-L software with its ERP systems. “If parts for Pac-Mac and Hammerhead use the same material grade and thickness, we can nest them together. That improves plate utilisation and makes us more efficient,” says Holder. “Of course, the Compact Towers allow us to run lights-out when we need extra capacity. That helps our business grow without additional labor costs.”

I'm Jamie Holder. I'm the president of Hol-Mac Corporation. My father started our company in 1963. I'm second generation and we have three third generation working in the company now. Any business, any family business, is a challenge and we've been very blessed over the years to always find something to do and we've done nearly everything in our history. 

In the late nineties we started looking at a long-term strategy and as part of that strategy, we determined that we wanted to have some of our own products to control our own destiny, to be diversified, so that we can grow the opportunities for our employees, grow our business, have better jobs and more different types of jobs for our employees.

And so we started developing the Pac-Mac product line where we build garbage trucks and knuckle boom loaders. Then we followed that up in 2008 when we started designing Hammerhead truck accessory products. Those two product lines continue to grow and are starting to do well and they’re a core part of our business now.

As we began to expand the Hammerhead products and the Pac-Man products, we ran into capacity and capability issues. The first challenge with the Hammerhead was that we didn't have an in-house laser so we were outsourcing laser parts. In our market, customers expect immediate delivery, from one-day delivery to two weeks max, and we decided we couldn’t do that without investing in our own laser and doing that work in-house. As we continue to grow, we added the ten-shelf storage and load and unload process, a tower. We load it up. Depending on our needs it can run five hours in the evening or all night, and it allows us to grow with quality parts that fit up well in our fabrication area without having to add additional labour costs. The fit-up and the finish of our bumpers is very important to our customers. That's what we sell, this craftsmanship, and the fit-up of those laser cut pieces with all the multiple forms is very, very critical. The Sirius CO2 laser is what we started with. It continued to do well as we continued to grow. As our capabilities needed to expand for larger parts to match the Pac-Mac products, we had to go with the Phoenix laser. It'll cut a six-by-twelve sheet and we stuck with a tower system, which is very rare on that size sheet.

But it's been very good for us because now we have the two lasers. Both can run lights out if we need them to but we also have the capability of doing larger parts for our Pac-Mac products without having to outsource those. We cut anywhere from ten gauge up to the 1” plate on the Phoenix machine. It's a 6,000-watt machine, and we have cut some A572 from T1 steel. We do cut some stainless steel and some aluminium on our machines as well. The flexibility of the different types of steel makes the tower extremely good for our operation because you can put up to five different types of steel, thicknesses or grades in there.

Just program the machine and when it pulls that steel into the machine, it knows what to do, it knows what to cut because it knows it's the thickness and grade you put in the machine. We do a lot of different parts and designs of bumpers and also Pac-Mac products and that flexibility is tremendous for us.

After having it installed, seeing how it's built, the quality of the tower and how it's integrated in the laser, it was definitely the right decision for us and it's worked out great.