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HITCO Carbon Composites, Inc., began as Thompson Glass and Paint Company. It was founded by two brothers, Harry I. and George Thompson, in 1922. Originally the company focused on producing glass and mirrors, and despite the company name had no dealings in paint. In 1943 the company was renamed H. I. Thompson Company, and in 1946 the company was incorporated in California. Its headquarters were in Los Angeles. In 1961 the company acquired the Dumont Company of San Rafael, California, and took over the company’s high temperature and rocket part fabrication. The merged company moved to Gardena, California, and in 1966 it was renamed HITCO.
From its early days producing glass and mirrors, HITCO expanded into manufacturing carbon composite materials. The company produced and supplied composite materials designed to withstand high temperatures and severe environments. HITCO also focused on producing strong and lightweight composites. Among these products were fiberglass, carbon, metal, and graphite composite materials. Many of these composites and metals were designed to serve as aircraft or technical parts or as industrial equipment. HITCO’s raw materials included a wide range of materials, including carbon, graphite, asbestos, plastics, resins, and various metals.
HITCO became a supplier for the aerospace industry and the military, and HITCO products were included in aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, submarines, helicopters, and the associated heat shields and supporting structures of these and many other objects. More mundane parts went into calculators, typewriters, and tubing.
HITCO went public in 1966 and began acquiring related businesses, such as Wickes Industries, a manufacturer of electronic and communications products, and Bathey Manufacturing Company, a producer of industrial containers, among many others. By this period, HITCO began relying on government contracts for much of its sales; in 1965, for example, sales to the U.S. government and its contractors made up 89 percent of HITCO’s annual sales. Its acquisition and diversification scheme in the succeeding years helped reduce HITCO’s reliance on the government to 57 percent of sales in 1968. HITCO had $61 million in orders in 1968, up from $53 million in the previous year.
In 1970 HITCO was acquired by Armco Steel; by Owens Corning Fiberglass in 1985; by British Petroleum Chemicals Division in 1987; by the Intertech Group in 1991; by Veritas Capital in 1995; and by SGL Carbon Group in 1997. At that point it was renamed HITCO Carbon Composites.
Note: The company maintains an informative web page at www.hitco.com.