Customer Profile – The Sousa Corp.

The Sousa Corp., an Ipsen Customer for a decade, celebrates 110 years of heat-treating history and steady growth into the future of the industry.

In Connecticut, the past and the present seem to exist simultaneously. Whether it’s the tall ships and the modern yachts floating in the harbor at Mystic Seaport, or the elected officials writing modern laws under the 145-year-old golden dome at the capitol in Hartford, history is everywhere you look in the fifth state of the union.

The Sousa Corp. proudly celebrates its history, which traces back over a century to Wilbur Bennett, a blacksmith and entrepreneur. Bennett started his own heat-treating company in 1915 in the former Goodwin Brother Pottery Company in West Hartford, incorporated in 1922 as the Bennett Metal Treating Company. A young Norman Sousa Sr. joined the company in 1947, a time when remnants of black paint remained on the skylight windows, painted as a precaution in case of bombardment during WWII.

Norman Sousa Sr. had been working at Pratt and Whitney when his brother recruited him to work at Bennett. Sousa Sr. was a renaissance man – an artist, photographer, and tinkerer who was able to learn things quickly, and had an intuitive understanding about how machines worked, and how to fix them when they didn’t.

As Sousa Sr.’s son Norman Sousa Jr. turned 15, Sousa Sr. had an opportunity to buy the heat-treating company’s assets, and in 1967 he began The Sousa Corp. Norman Jr. pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Metallurgical Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, following his father into the heat-treating business, eventually to take over the company.

The Sousa Corp. Today

Andrew Sousa, Vice President of The Sousa Corp., represents just one of the three siblings and two brothers-in-law that are leading The Sousa Corp. into the future. “I worked for my father in high school, then I went off to get a degree in finance. Unfortunately, graduating into a post-9/11 economy made it difficult to find work amidst a market crash. Fortunately, I could see that going back to work with my father was a great opportunity. I gave it a shot and I’ve been here ever since,” Andrew Sousa explained.

Sister Amanda (Sousa) Eddy is the current president of The Sousa Corp. after earning an environmental science degree. Younger sister Kate (Sousa) Desjardins joined the company after earning her degree in business management in 2007.

While Norman Sousa Jr. has officially retired from ownership, he still comes to work four days a week, remaining engaged in metallurgy, collaborating with his children and working on special projects in different aspects of the business.

“Being able to work with our family is pretty special to us,” Andrew Sousa said.

Sousa Corp. Looks Ahead

Recently, Sousa Corp. added an Ipsen Turbo²Treater to their lineup of vacuum furnaces, the second such machine for the company. “There’s always new customers coming out of the woodwork,” Andrew Sousa explained about the need for the expansion.

“There are times when we’ve had our three large vacuum furnaces running 24/7. We had the workload to support adding the furnace. Demand has remained strong.”

When asked why they chose to get a second Ipsen Turbo²Treater, Andrew Sousa reported “Ipsen makes a really nice furnace. The Turbo²Treater does a lot of things well. We’ve had a lot of good luck with it, it doesn’t have a lot of issues, and support has been very good for us.”

“We like to have things that are interchangeable. Our operators don’t have to learn the ins and outs of a completely new machine,” Andrew Sousa added. “When you start with something familiar, you’re already ahead of the game if you know how to run and maintain it.”

The growing demand for their service has been coming from a variety of industries, from aerospace and defense work, firearms manufacturers, fasteners, and medical instruments. “We’ve worked on everything from beryllium copper rings for coax cables to a part for the Otis Elevator company that went into the ‘Tower of Terror’ ride at Disney World,” Sousa recalled.

As for the future of Sousa Corp., “We are anticipating organic growth,” Andrew Sousa explained. “We’re still a family-owned business that is able to have our family members involved in, and in control of, the most important aspects of the business. We’re in a good place.”

Sousa Corp logo

Ipsen USA is proud to partner with Sousa Corp. and to celebrate their present and future successes.

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