"All he saw were opportunities.
All he did was invent an industry."
Dr. E. Douglas Hougen, Founder of the Company
|- Producer of over 400 patents worldwide
- First precision annular sheet metal hole cutters
- First magnetic drill to use annular cutters
- First annular machine to drill over 1-1/2” diameter
- First annular machine to drill 3” deep
- First annular machine with positive slug ejection
- First annular machine with a safety switch
- First annular machine with a coolant reservoir & thru-the-tool coolant system
- First annular machine to offer self-reversing tapping head attachment
- First annular machine to offer quill feed spindle
A born entrepreneur and dedicated inventor, Dr E. Douglas Hougen, "The Man Who Invented an Industry", revolutionized the holemaking industry world-wide when he invented the Spotweld Cutter in the late 1950's and founded his first company, Blair Equipment Company, in 1952. At that time, he was teaching at G.M.I. (now Kettering University). The company was then located and operated out of his garage on Blair Street, in Flint, Michigan, two blocks from G.M.I. When Doug relocated to Flushing, Michigan, he had his sons and their friends dig out an addition to the basement of his home, and moved the business into the additional basement area. In the mid-1960's, the company outgrew its basement location, and was relocated to a new, modern manufacturing location on Corunna Road in Flint, Michigan. At that time, Doug decided to devote his entire career to his business, and left the employ of G.M.I.
Doug established Hougen Manufacturing, Inc., on February 17, 1959, and began working on a new concept to further revolutionize the hole cutting business. He wanted to go after the steel erection and other industrial markets with his newest inventions. Doug's thinking process eventually resulted in the evolution of the first Rotabroach Annular Cutter, which he patented in 1973. He saw the Rotabroach as an entirely new hole cutting system, not just another tool like the hole saw. His original idea was to put a circumferential radial step on the cutting edge of the saw tooth, reasoning that, if the width of the chip was equal to the width of the cutting edge, half the width of the cutting edge would generate half as much width of chip. That would produce two small chips that would be easily ejected from the hole. Always looking for ways to improve upon his ideas, he next added margins on the Rotabroach flutes. This resulted in a far superior cutter and an additional 17 years of owning a world-wide patent-protected product.
Kettering University has honored Doug by dedicating a portion of their Total Design Studio, in its Mechanical Engineering Department, in his memory. His original patent for the Rotabroach Annular Cutter is prominently displayed at Kettering University, along with some of his other earlier patents. The Hougen Foundation continues to support education by donating funds annually to, not only Kettering University, but also to other local schools and charities.
Every inventor has trouble convincing a stubborn industry that change is necessary, as did Doug with the industrial market. That's when Doug decided to develop the first light-weight, portable magnetic drill for use with his Rotabroach Annular Cutters (1974) and break into other markets first, such as the fabricating and construction industries. Eventually, his innovative and entrepreneurial efforts resulted in successfully supplying tools for the automotive industry, in nuclear subs, and for the space shuttle launches.
In the mid 1990's both companies were relocated to a new, state-of-art factory in Swartz Creek, Michigan. Today, Hougen Manufacturing continues to supply quality tools and service to many industries, while satisfying our customers' needs by "Solving Holemaking Problems Through Innovation".