Ohmite Manufacturing Company

Resistive electrical components supporting global industry
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
John Carioti

Ohmite Manufacturing Company has been a leader in the electronic component industry, providing resistors for high-current, high-voltage, current sensing and high-energy applications. Strengthened by the backing of Heico Companies LLC, the holding company of more than 35 businesses, headquartered in Chicago and involved in manufacturing, construction and industrial services, Ohmite has grown by seeking out niche, innovative resistor products and by building a world-class distribution channel.

Vast applications

Ohmite’s resistor technology has steadily made its way into nearly every corner of industry — electrical vehicles and elevators, consumer products, refrigeration, radar, motion and controls, security and surveillance, automated doors, cranes, medical equipment, sensors, aerospace applications and even amusement parks, among others.

Ohmite Manufacturing

“That’s what is so exciting about this business — the fact that there is any number of applications for our products and the opportunities are always growing,” says Greg Pace, president of Ohmite. “If there’s a need for slowing an electrical current down or speeding it up, then there’s a need for our resistor technology.”

Even after 90 years in business, Pace says Ohmite demonstrates the characteristics of a startup business. The company constantly reinvents itself and makes acquisitions of complementary products to meet ever-changing demand. Ohmite’s full scope of resistor construction includes wire wound, wire element, thick film and ceramic composition. “We make parts the size of your pinky finger and ones that will fill an entire truck; the product offering is extensive,” says Pace.

Constant evolution

Ohmite’s diverse offering has attracted global business. Through years of various acquisitions, the company now has operations in Chicago, South Texas, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Ohmite employs more than 500 individuals worldwide.

But even through serious expansion, Pace says the company remembers its roots. “Ohmite started in a small shop on the west side of Chicago in 1925,” he recounts. Founded by David T. Siegel, the company began manufacturing carbon and wire-wound lug resistors for the city’s burgeoning radio manufacturing industry.

“Siegel was a radio enthusiast and all early radios needed a power resistor,” says Pace. “Siegel joined his good friend, Thomas Edison, who was in the middle of setting up a nationwide power grid. As the electronics industry grew and continued to develop, Ohmite evolved to service the ever-changing design requirements.”

The military market quickly became one of Ohmite’s strong suits and still is today. “In the 1930s, the company began designing resistor technology for Department of Defense projects, including high-end radar and radio transmitters used in battleships,” says Pace. “Ohmite played a leading role in the defense of the country and some of these products are now military specs today.”

Through acquisition, Ohmite added the wire-wound capabilities of Memcor-Truohm in 1996 and Ward Leonard Resistors in 1999. Victoreen Components, an experienced company specializing in thick film technology for high-voltage applications, was added to the Ohmite family in 1999.

Then in 2006 Ohmite made a breakthrough addition to its product family, acquiring the Ultonics brand of high precision, wire wound resistors and the rheostat production from Dale Resistors, owned by global powerhouse Vishay. “This acquisition of precision resistors completed our wire wound portfolio quite nicely,” adds Pace.

Ohmite’s most recent acquisition occurred in March 2015 as the company brought Arcol UK Ltd., a leading global manufacturer of aluminum-housed resistors based in Truro, England, under its umbrella. “This acquisition really helps solidify our global presence in the power resistors market and establishes a European arm of the company,” explains Pace. “Aluminum-housed resistors are an area we didn’t have a lot of experience in before, so Arcol’s portfolio really filled a nice niche for us, as well as entry into Europe.

Product availability and pro-customer service

Today, Ohmite serves a global customer base while striving to maintain the flexibility needed to handle both large and small requirements. Pace says maintaining a level of flexibility and product availability in today’s market is critical to the success of customers.

“We have one of the best authorized distribution channels in the business,” he says. “Our network of international distributors and sales representatives allows us to rapidly fill requirements. We still sell the old-fashioned way, meeting with design engineers and going into production and supply of the best product possible so our customers don’t miss a beat in their supply chain.”

Pace comments on Ohmite’s rep network:  “The second piece of our marketing and sales success has been to stay with our North American independent rep model which leverages our direct calling efforts. We work a three-prong approach of supplier, rep sales efforts and distribution supply chain.”

Ohmite Manufacturing

“We have thousands of customers worldwide, but through this distribution network, we can get our parts in the hands of design engineers in a matter of days — from Portland, Oregon, to Athens and all over — whether it’s one part or 1,000,” says Pace. “We have attempted to limit our authorized distributors to component powerhouses such as TTI, Allied, Newark, Digi-key, Mouser, Master, Sager and quality regionals both in the USA and globally.

This level of service is driven by Ohmite’s desire to constantly power any number of industries. “We find ourselves involved in so many applications, from sensors on automobiles to medical equipment,” says Pace. “With so many applications for our resistors, we’re playing a role in leading industries; we have major impact.”

Through constant evolution, ongoing product development and first-class distribution, Ohmite Manufacturing Company provides the latest in resistor technology for today’s most demanding applications.