30 Under 30: Allen Henri
Westminster Tool Inc.
*Click here to download our 30 Under 30 List*
“Westminster Tool,” said company president Raymond Coombs Jr., “is a company that promotes innovation and continuous improvement, and Allen has been a perfect fit for this philosophy.”
As head of Westminster’s aerospace production department, Allen is the company’s youngest manager and is credited with creating Westminster’s Aerospace Division about three years ago.
How it happened, Allen explained, was that “a customer brought a part to us that they hadn’t had any luck getting made. My brother [who also worked at Westminster] started the project and then he handed it over to me. Someone once told me that when you’re faced with a problem somebody says is impossible to solve, you take what they did and do the opposite. That’s sort of the approach I took in solving this problem.”
“Since then,” Coombs said, “Allen has developed all of the processes necessary to create a complete turn-key system for the Aerospace Division.” In addition, Allen solved a crucial problem for “our leading aerospace customer."
“A part we were making for this customer,” Allen said, “has to be coated with a resin once it’s completed. The part can’t be used, however, if resin gets inside it because it reduces the size of the cavity beyond the required tolerance. These parts are expensive and the component they go into is even more expensive, so I made this little handheld tool and ground up a form tool with a couple of bearings that can be used to clean out those resin deposits.”
“That solution,” Coombs said, “saved our customer in excess of $300,000.”
Allen joined Westminster Tool upon graduating from the Machine Technology program at Windham Technical High School (Willimantic, CT). “My older brother went through the program,” Allen said, “and I’ve always looked up to him. Plus, they had exploratory courses in 9th grade so you can experience all the different shops—architecture, carpentry, auto, manufacturing. Manufacturing came sort of easy to me.”
Coombs added that Allen is always willing to learn. “He has completed 18 of the 20 on-the-job training modules [Westminster offers] and has taken numerous courses at the local community college.”
And Allen is also willing to help teach. “He led the winning team from H.H. Ellis Technical School (Danielson, CT) in a work-based learning program project sponsored by the Quinebaug Manufacturing Institute [QMI].” QMI is a partnership between Quinebaug Valley Community College and area manufacturers, including Westminster. QMI’s goal is to provide programs that prepare people to work in manufacturing.
“About 20 companies are now participating,” Allen said. “Each gives a person to a high school once a week to serve as a project expert. Ellis had a problem with its work-study program.” With Allen’s help the students formed an employment agency in the school and hosted an actual job fair where several manufacturers, colleges, temp agencies, and other experts provided advice and tips on interviewing and resume writing. “About four or five kids have gotten jobs already,” he said. ME