Groundbreaking on 40,000 st ft expansion April

History of BHE

Blackhawk Engineering originally began operations in 1974 with the purpose to design and build tooling, dies and special machines. The company primarily produced one-off projects and small quantity reproductions. It wasn’t until years later did BHE find its true niche.

“The company saw an opportunity to change and migrate from small one-piece machining jobs to larger production runs,” said John Oltman, general manager of Blackhawk Engineering. “It was the right time to take this obvious step.”

In the early 1990’s one of its largest clients, John Deere, made the decision to outsource some of its precision CNC work to BHE. John Deere sold some of its machines and equipment to BHE beginning the focus on production machining. The tooling, dies and special machine operation was shifted solely to Blackhawk Engineering’s location on Airline Highway.

In 1995, BHE hit its major growth spurt and completed its third building expansion in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park. BHE started exploring new and innovative ways to meet the needs of its growing industry. They scoured the globe for vendors to provide equipment to help them compete in the large production arena.  “We found a good partner in the Hitachi Seiki Company during the 90’s and we became the world’s largest user of their Hitachi Seiki Horizontal Pallet Changers.”

Nearly 10 years later, an opportunity arose to sell the Systems division to industrial park neighbor, American Pattern. Then BHE became solely focused on production precision CNC machining. Now, BHE has expanded and diversified to provide customers with the best precision CNC machining services available in the market.

“Our focus on customer service, competitive pricing, and on-time deliveries has kept us at the forefront of the CNC machining industry,” said Kurt Barker, sales manager with Blackhawk Engineering. “Our history is rich and it’s an exciting story to tell.”

1985 – Additional CNC lathes and mills purchased to focus on machining service/short-run production parts.

1988 – Purchased a large horizontal machining center for an agricultural differential housing.

1989 – Became the first recognized Certified Supplier to John Deere Waterloo Tractor Works for drivetrain casting machining.

1990 – Blackhawk Engineering Production Group and Blackhawk Engineering Systems Group split into two separate entities and facilities, allowing for our focus on production machining.

1995 – Completion of third building expansion, allowing us the needed space to focus on our expanding expertise in the horizontal mill usage for six-sided drivetrain-type machining. Also in 1995 we became the world’s No. 1 user of Hitachi Seiki Horizontal Pallet Changers.

1996 – Introduced the Ford Quality Operating System (QOS) used to drive and improve BHE business practices.

1999 – Achieved ISO 9000 registration.

2006 – Sold Blackhawk Engineering Systems Group to solely focus on production machining.

2009 – Certified to ISO 9001:2008.

2011 – 30,000 sq. ft. plant addition completed, build in response to high demand for our services.

2013 – Broke ground on a 40,000-square-foot facility, expanding our facility to 118,000 square feet.

2014 – 40,000 sq. ft. plant addition completed, providing space for new opportunities and for further diversification.