Hankscraft Inc. was started in Madison, Wisconsin in 1920, based on an invention of Marshall Hanks. Mr. Hanks was an engineer working for the French Battery Co. in Madison, WI. His device used water to complete an electrical circuit between two electrodes. The heat from the closed circuit boiled water. When the water boils away, the circuit is broken and the device shuts off. From this invention, he patented an electric egg cooker, which became the company's first product.
In 1927, Wayne Ramsey joined Marshall Hanks at the company. Wayne was the son of J.B. Ramsey, the founder of the French Battery Co. in Madison, WI, which eventually became the Ray-O-Vac Corporation. Until the 1930’s the electric egg cooker was the company’s only product. Eventually other products followed including baby bottle warmers, sterilizers, vaporizers and humidifiers. In 1937, Wayne Ramsey purchased controlling interest in the company.
By the 1940's, Hankscraft had become a trusted brand of household products. Hankscraft continued to expand its product line and began producing sub-fractional electric motors. Because of growth and the need for more manufacturing space, the company moved to Reedsburg, Wisconsin in 1949.
In the early 1950's, Sheldon Wengel of Madison, WI who started his own business after World War II manufacturing electronic flash units for photographers brought a new invention of his to Hankscraft. Mr. Wengel invented a small DC oscillating motor which he envisioned could be used on in-store product advertising displays to attract the consumers' attention, giving the product an advantage over its competition at the point of sale. After convincing Mr. Ramsey to manufacture and sell his invention, Mr. Wengel joined Hankscraft and his invention led to the creation of the Hankscraft “motors division”. The motors division grew steadily, and manufactured a variety of DC and AC motors for many different applications and products.
By the late 1960's, Hankscraft had become a leader in the production of baby related household products, motors and animated point of purchase display components.
Gerber Products Company
In 1970, with the substantial growth of the company's household related products, point of purchase display components and AC & DC motors, Hankscraft was purchased by the Gerber Products Company of Fremont, Michigan. As the market for baby related & household products changed and foreign competition grew, Gerber decided to physically separate the Hankscraft household products group and the Hankscraft motors division. In 1992, Gerber moved the motor division to a new building at 300 Wengel Drive in Reedsburg, which still serves as Hankscraft’s corporate headquarters.
Purchase by Senior Management
In August 1996, as part of a restructuring by Gerber to refocus its business in the baby food and baby care areas, a group of senior managers of the motor division purchased the division from Gerber and named the new company Hankscraft Motors, Inc. Since 1996, Hankscraft's business has continued to grow. While retaining an outstanding reputation in the point of purchase advertising industry, Hankscraft expanded its AC & DC motor products, and developed an expertise in electronics, printed circuit boards and plastics. The majority of the original 1996 ownership group is still in place today.
A.J.S. & Associates Acquisition
A.J.S. & Associates was acquired by Hankscraft in 1999, as a wholly-owned subsidiary. A.J.S. is the premier manufacturer of wood & plastic tap handles for the beer and beverage industries. Using its expertise, superior craftsmanship and product design, Hankscraft/A.J.S. works with beer and beverage companies to design and produce creative and innovative tap handles to attract customers' attention.
More Than Motors
In 2003, to better reflect the company’s business as a world class supplier of many different products, the word “motors” was dropped from the company’s name, and the company officially became “Hankscraft Inc.”
Expansion into China
After many years of sourcing raw materials and sub-assemblies from Asian suppliers, Hankscraft felt it needed more control over quality, logistics and costs. So in March 2003, Hankscraft formed a wholly-owned subsidiary in China. Han Ke Wu Jiao Mechanical & Electrical Co., located in Suzhou, China, opened in March 2003. Han Ke Wu Jiao gives Hankscraft the resources to design and build world class PCB assemblies, plastic components, high-end electronics, motors and metal stamping with complete final product assembly. Han Ke Wu Jiao received ISO9001 certificate in 2005.
Following the opening of Han Ke Wu Jiao in 2003, Hankscraft opened two Chinese joint ventures the following year, both located in Suzhou, China. Teaming up with Non-Metallic Components, LLC of Poynette, Wisconsin, Han Ke NMC Precision Injection Molding Inc. was opened in July 2004. With capabilities in plastic injection molding and secondary operations including sonic and spin welding, this joint venture expertise is tight tolerance plastic parts. The company received ISO9001 & TS16949 certification in 2006.
In December of 2004, Hankscraft and Bodine Electric Co. of Chicago, Illinois opened Han Ke Bodine Precision Motors and Components Inc. This joint venture was created to produce sub-assemblies to be supplied to Bodine. Bodine acquired Hankscraft’s ownership interest in the joint venture in 2008.
Hankscraft has over 300 employees worldwide who, guided by this mission and these values, provide customers around the world with a wide range of products and services.