In 1945, Charles Kaman, a self-described “headstrong twenty-six year old,” founded Kaman Aircraft Corporation in the garage of his mother’s West Hartford, Connecticut home. His goal: demonstrate a new rotor concept he devised to make helicopters more stable and easier to fly. Within two years the K-125 helicopter was in the air.
Seventy years later, our founder’s spirit of invention and determination continue to inspire everyone at Kaman. Pushing beyond the expected to create and deliver something new and better for our customers is a driving force behind our continued momentum.
A problem with salt corrosion from maritime missions on the SH-2 fleet in Vietnam led Kaman engineers to invent the KAcarb self-lubricated airframe bearing. This was the start of what became Kamatics, whose self-lubricated bearings are now used on virtually every aircraft manufactured today.
Kaman engineers develop the next generation bearing liner system, Teflon-based KAron,® which has proven effective in the most demanding aviation, marine, and industrial applications.
Kaman Specialty Bearings continues to build on the breakthrough innovations of earlier generations. Through six decades, our consistently reliable products have provided longer life and lower maintenance costs, even in areas of high moisture, fluid/debris contamination and elevated temperatures. In 2014, we opened a new facility in Höchstadt, Germany, which doubled bearing manufacturing capacity in Europe and provides a state-of-the-art platform for creating a new generation of innovations in bearings and engineered products.
Kaman pioneers pilotless helicopter flight with the HTK-1, the world’s first remote control helicopter. The modified HTK-1 builds on the hands-off flying already possible with the HTK. A broadcast of the flight on the “You Asked for It” television program captures public imagination.
The K-MAX® unmanned aircraft system from Kaman and Lockheed Martin enables Marines in Afghanistan to deliver supplies day or night to precise locations without risking the lives of pilots. The K-MAX® carried more than 3.5 million pounds on over 1,300 missions.
The spirit of innovation that led to the first unmanned helicopter flight lives on in the engineers of Kaman Aerospace. This is why aviation leaders and governments continue to work with us. Most recently, we demonstrated to the U.S. Forest Service of the Department of the Interior how the unmanned K-MAX® can be used to fight forest fires, with the potential to reduce loss of life to both pilots and firefighters.
Beginning in the 1950s, the world’s largest and best-known aerospace companies have looked to Kaman as a reliable partner for sub-contracting. Among our earliest contracts were agreements to produce parts for the McDonnell F-101, Grumman aircraft, and others.
Kaman begins producing the fixed trailing edge assembly for the 767. To date, Kaman has delivered more than a thousand 767 assemblies to Boeing.
The pursuit of operational excellence continues to drive everyone at Kaman Aerospace, leading to deeper relationships with the world’s top aerospace companies. Our early work for Boeing on the fixed trailing edge has led to a new contract with Boeing on its 767-based KC-46A U.S. Air Force tanker. Our contract with Boeing for the manufacture and assembly of two major sections of the 747-8 wing-to-body fairing, part of a long-standing and expanding relationship with Boeing, is ahead of schedule and under budget.
“What makes Kaman different is people. Now, you can go to a lot of companies and you just don’t find the spirit, the dedication, the willingness to work and achieve, and the satisfaction in achievement, that you find here.”
– Charles H. Kaman
With the appointment of Jack Cahill as president, Kaman Industrial Technologies is unified under a common name, IT platform and distribution network … and growth accelerates.
Outstanding talent has been instrumental in the growth of Kaman. Two leaders, one a Kaman veteran, the other new to the company, exemplify this. Rob Paterson, President of Kamatics, joined Kaman in 1980 as a second generation employee. Rob has led his division to global leadership and is a superb ambassador for the spirit of innovation and partnership that have characterized Kaman since our founding.
In 2014, Tribby Warfield was named Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Fluid Power platform of our Distribution segment. Tribby joined Kaman from Gates Corporation, where she most recently served as President, North American Commercial.
With the acquisitions of Reliable Bearing and Supply Co. of San Bernardino, CA and Western Bearings Inc. of Salt Lake City, UT, Kaman enters the industrial distribution business.
Kaman acquires Catching Fluid Power, a leading tri-motion distributor of Parker Hannifin fluid power products based in Bolingbrook, IL. With this acquisition, Kaman is recognized as a value-added reseller of Parker products across the U.S.
Kaman Distribution is one of North America’s largest industrial distributors, focusing on three robust platforms: Bearings and Power Transmission; Fluid Power; and Automation, Control, and Energy. Together, these platforms address a $35 billion market.
Kaman brings added value to customers by offering single-source responsibility and accountability for a comprehensive portfolio of product lines. With a reputation for leadership and technical expertise, Kaman offers solutions that go beyond the role of a traditional product provider to deliver a reduction in the total cost of doing business.
Kaman begins a relationship with a $6 billion global consumer products company by supplying a single location—a northeastern paper mill.
The relationship with the customer has grown steadily, resulting in a National Account agreement to supply all of the company’s manufacturing facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The global consumer products company, with sales in excess of $80 billion, is Kaman Distribution’s largest customer, encompassing more than 30 facilities. A Kaman customer service center in Louisville receives orders electronically. The Louisville center processes orders and coordinates with all Kaman account managers, who provide customer service to fulfill the needs of each customer location. This deepening relationship reflects a commitment to outstanding service and innovation that began in the earliest days of Kaman Distribution. With more than 100 National Account relationships, Kaman is a value-added partner to many of North America’s largest and most demanding companies.
Reflecting a deep commitment to improving operational efficiency, Kaman Distribution opens an 80,000 square foot central warehouse in Albany, NY, replacing three smaller, less efficient northeast warehouses that came to Kaman through acquisitions.
With the launch of a new warehouse management system, Kaman Distribution is able to provide even better service to customers while enhancing productivity.
Kaman Distribution’s commitment to continuous improvement has reduced the footprint of distribution centers and lowered staffing levels. Equally as important, increased quality is evidenced by an accuracy rate of 99.982%. Innovations continue to make Distribution a lean, nimble competitor, including random storage, wireless bar coding, optimized floor space techniques and cutting-edge supply chain strategies.