We here at powerTV recently had the pleasure of touring the Billet Specialties production facility located in the Chicago area suburb of La Grange, Illinois where their extensive line of wheels and billet components are designed and manufactured, carried through from the drawing board to the shipping department.
Billet Specialties is one of the most recognizable names in the hot rodding industry and with its foray into the racing world, is quickly making a name for itself in an arena long dominated by competing brands. The company produces over 600 accessory products including dress-up and various components, along with over 90 wheel styles, delivering the most diverse product line in the industry.
In addition to their extensive line of top quality products however, Billet Specialties prides itself on its unrivaled quality control practices and quick, ready-to-order delivery practices that have earned them their place amongst hot rodding’s elite. If you’ve ever worked in or been through a manufacturing facility of any kind, they often tend to be cluttered and dirty. Not the case for Billet Specialties, however. Suffice it to say, you could practically eat off the floor in most areas of the facility, and each segment of the manufacturing process has its own distinct space with everything kept neat and organized.
Our tour with Marketing Manager Scott Sandoval begins in the machining area, where several Hass CNC machines operate to produce every product in the Billet Specialties product lineup from a block of aluminum. Operators place the roughed-out-billet aluminum material into the machines and plug in the directions for the cut and let the machine do its thing. Digital screens on the CNC machines provide a real-time, visual look at the progress.
As mentioned, virtually everything begins the CNC process from a previously roughed-out shape of billet aluminum, of which plenty of "cores" are kept on hand to keep production moving along continuously. In the image above, you can see a stack serpentine pulleys that have gone through the first machining process where the grooves were cut.
Once the wheel centers have been carved into the desired design, they are then shipped over to the polishing area, where a crew of dedicated workers donned in full body protective clothing tediously polish every nook and cranny in a sealed off room to contain the contaminants in the air.
From there, the wheel centers are then mated to the wheels by hand and checked thoroughly for proper placement and fit before being placed into a machine that welds the center to the wheel, making it a complete wheel nearly ready for shipment.
Priding itself on its fast delivery to customers, Billet Specialties maintains a large inventory of wheel centers, rim shells, and center blanks that are ready for finishing to fulfill orders. As well, they keep an inventory of finished wheels in select sizes and styles ready for immediate shipping in a large shipping and inventory department that is kept neat and orderly for quick packing and shipment.
At the end of our tour, we come to Billet Specialties' product showroom, which features many of the product displays seen at their booth at the popular trade shows and featuring many of their top products, including a multitude of wheels, steering wheels, and an engine clad in many of their engine dress-up components.
Before heading out, Scott showed us some of their new products headed to the market, including a new drag racing beadlock for their beadlock rear wheels, a single billet battery mount, and battery lug brackets.
And so ends our tour through the Billet Specialties facility. We can’t thank Scott Sandoval enough for graciously allowing us to visit and view up-close every facet of their manufacturing process that we believe sets the standard for production facilities every bit as much as their products set the standard in the hot rodding world.