Transforming the Industry

Written by Ryan Cartner

NWL is a manufacturer of specialized electrical components including transformers, power supplies, inductors and capacitors for demanding industrial and military applications. Throughout its history, NWL has grown consistently, and today, the company operates five manufacturing plants and is one of the leaders in its industry.
The company was established in Trenton, New Jersey in the 1930s by John Nothelfer and began as a transformer repair shop under the name Nothelfer Winding Laboratories. At the time, this area was a center for the electrical manufacturing industry, and the company achieved a great deal of success in the region. When Nothelfer retired in 1968, Vice President Jim Seitz and 11 other employees purchased the company, and after a number of years in the president’s chair, Jim passed the leadership to his sons Dave and Bert, who own and operate NWL today.

The New Jersey branch of NWL primarily manufactures transformers and power supplies and operates from a 150,000-square-foot facility in Bordentown, New Jersey. Each plant has a specific manufacturing concentration, to best suit the components that are built there. In Florida and North Carolina, NWL has plants dedicated to manufacturing capacitors, and in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, it has a joint-venture precipitator power supply plant called NWL Pacific.

Within the New Jersey plant, one stand-out quality is the sheer range of products being worked on at any given time. “The interesting story about us, something almost every visitor comments on,” says Dave Seitz, president of NWL, “is the wide variety of products that we can do under one roof in New Jersey. We do things that weigh twenty pounds, and we do things that weigh thirty tons.” The range of products is diverse, but the unifying thread that runs through them all is that they are hard to design, hard to build and that they must work in the most difficult conditions.

The company builds highly specialized, high-voltage power supplies designed to be used in demanding applications and environments. These include electrostatic precipitators, an important piece of industrial equipment that uses an electrostatic charge to remove particulate from gas streams. NWL power supplies are also used in the oil industry to remove salt and water from crude oil and are also found in electron beam equipment. These products are often deployed into harsh, dirty, hot, corrosive areas where it is difficult for service technicians to access them.

NWL products are used in critical applications where they absolutely have to work, and its transformers are often used in specialized military applications. Working on these highly critical projects requires a great deal of trust between NWL and its customers. Honesty, fairness and respect make up the culture within the company. Open communication between NWL and its customers, employees and vendors permits the workforce to operate effectively and instills a necessary level of confidence in the customer to trust the company with the project.

To further set the customer at ease, NWL’s engineers are highly-skilled and long-tenured. The team has learned over many years and projects how to collaborate with a high level of efficiency. The variety of projects has enabled the team to develop its expertise, resulting in an expert workforce capable of taking on some of the most challenging jobs and engineering solutions for some of the most difficult applications.

The result of this commitment to constant learning and self-betterment is a company with the confidence and the ability to get the job done. “Sometimes the problem we’re trying to solve is really difficult,” says Seitz, “but we never give up.” The company has equipment operating throughout the world, in oil fields, power plants and more places where equipment is prone to failure. NWL equipment stands up to the test.

The array of products that NWL manufactures within the New Jersey plant is an important standout quality for the company. Having the ability to build a thirty-ton transformer at the same site as sophisticated, smaller power supplies makes the company quite versatile. The company has developed a unique approach to structuring and managing the manufacturing floor to achieve this.

Within one 150,000 square foot plant, workers in a given area are strictly focused on one product type, which results in the one plant operating as though it is multiple separate and specialized plants. Organizing in this way has allowed NWL to successfully manage multiple disparate production lines in one facility, and achieve a level of versatility that is rare in the industry.

“It took us years to develop and perfect that concept,” says Seitz. “To organize it on the factory floor, and then to organize the scheduling, planning, material control and accounting – it took quite a while for that to come together.”

Beyond manufacturing, NWL is committed maintaining relationships with its customers through after-sale service and support. Roughly twenty percent of the company’s business is service, and the service technicians operate from the same manufacturing plant.

The company has worked on several significant projects and is known for dependable workmanship. It has an ISO9001 certification, and will soon have AS9100-D certification which certifies a level of quality assurance that meets aerospace industry requirements.

In 2016, NWL was recognized by Raytheon with an innovation award and, in 2017, with an EPIC award for overall outstanding performance. Raytheon is a major U.S. defense contractor, and the EPIC award is given to companies that show excellence in performance, innovation and collaboration in working with it. Defense projects have very intricate specifications and are highly critical. The ability to work on them at all is something that many companies do not achieve, but receiving this accolade is a clear demonstration of the quality of the work put out by the NWL team.

The effort that NWL has made to organize its manufacturing plants for efficiency also extends into the supply chain. The company is more vertically integrated than many of its competitors. NWL has found that it is very useful to manufacture most of the key sub-assemblies parts in-house, to better control cost, quality, and delivery. The result is a robust, high-performance design and a product that lives up to the stresses of its application. Being vertically integrated means that NWL is positioned better to handle difficult technical challenges.

NWL has continually improved to serve some of the most demanding industries in the world with high-performance equipment for a diverse range of applications. The company has developed an expertise and a reputation that reflects it.

“Many applications run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” says Seitz. “We do the hard stuff – hard to design, hard to build, and it has to work. That’s what we’re all about.”



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