blasting room

Titan Celebrates 70 Years of Abrasive Success

As Titan Abrasive Systems approaches its 70th birthday on August 1, President Brandon Acker has adopted an unofficial tagline that informs people of what the company does while also calling for a celebration of Titan’s seven decades in business: 

“Let’s Get Blasted!”

Acker recently attended a trade show recently offering T-shirts with the exclamatory slogan emblazoned on the back. Needless to say, it was a huge hit. But beyond the frivolity that those three words conjure, it’s the other meaning that has helped Titan create a well-known name in the industry – the abrasive blasting industry, that is. 

Founded in 1953 by Bruce Maurer and now fully owned and operated by Acker (his nephew), Titan Abrasive designs and manufactures high-quality surface preparation, surface finishing, and blasting equipment. It’s not a glamorous trade, yet its utility is unquestioned.

According to Corrosionpedia, abrasive blasting (sometimes called “sandblasting,” though the latter has been largely banned for health reasons) refers to the operation of “forcibly propelling a high-pressure stream of abrasive material against a surface in order to smooth a rough surface, shape a surface, or remove surface contaminants.” It’s quite prominent in industries like aerospace manufacturing, in which critical parts are blasted to remove burrs or rough edges caused by wear, as well as preparing parts for painting (roughening a surface improves paint adhesion). 

Starting Small

Like many companies, Titan began in a small shed in the backyard. By the mid-1960s, Bruce Maurer moved the fast-growing company to its first production facility. Despite its modest origin, Titan has grown to become a respected industry fixture, competing against much larger (and more well-known) entities. It’s a classic case of David vs. Goliath, or, to put it in terms that Philadelphians can relate to, it’s Rocky Balboa vs. Creed. And like Sylvester Stallone’s iconic character, Titan has managed to hold its own, despite being a clear underdog. Consider these recent statistics: Titan experienced 59% growth in revenue in 2021 over 2020 and an astounding 80.9% growth in 2022 over 2021. And since Acker’s purchase of the company in 2013, revenue has grown almost 10X. 

“I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re beating the big names in the industry in terms of revenue, size of our operation, number of employees, or pretty much any criteria you can imagine,” Acker bluntly stated. “But as a smaller player in the field, we don’t need to pull in quite as much business to keep the lights on. And frankly, our size gives us an advantage because we can be more nimble and more flexible. If we want to make an organizational or strategic change, it doesn’t have to go through layers and layers of bureaucracy. Just me.”

The usually humble Acker admitted that there is one area in which his competitors cannot challenge him. Our blast rooms, blast cabinets, and associated equipment are as good as, if not better than, anyone else’s. Our reputation for quality is unmatched. Plenty of companies say it, but I’ve got a list of clients a mile long who will tell you the same thing.”

The quality of their products is also evidenced by the household names that do business with them – companies from the aerospace and aviation industries (GE Aviation, Lockheed-Martin), nuclear energy (Framatome), and even the military (The U.S. Air Force and U.S Navy).  

Blasting’s Birthplace

It seems fitting that Titan’s location in Ivyland, Pennsylvania, positions it a mere 19 miles from Philadelphia – the birthplace of blasting. “The first patent for the sandblasting process was granted to Benjamin Tilghman of Pennsylvania in 1870,” Acker said. “Legend has it that Tilghman had seen the effect of wind-blown sand on windows in the desert while he was a general in the army, and that was his inspiration. Whether or not that part is true, the fact is abrasive blasting got its start not far from our facility. And we make sure everyone knows it.”

While Titan’s stature in the abrasive blasting market is secure, Acker has no plans to significantly expand or grow into a giant conglomerate, though he is always on the lookout for new business – even from unexpected sources. “It’s truly amazing how many products require abrasive blasting as part of their manufacturing process,” he said. “It seems like I find a new one every day. Did you know that abrasive blasting is used on hypodermic needles to remove the little burr at the tip so it doesn’t rip the patient’s skin when it comes out? Well, you know now.”

While Acker has clearly not been with Titan for the full 70 years of its existence (he acquired Titan in 2013), he describes the experience in the only way that makes sense. 

“It’s been a blast.”

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