Haynes International products have been to the moon and they’ve been to Mars.
But even in Kokomo, Haynes’ home for the past 101 years, there are people who have no idea what the venerable company produces.
“‘Do they make underwear?’ We hear that a lot,” said Haynes retiree Mike Rothman. “People just don’t know how important of a company Haynes is.”
That slight frustration, combined with a personal knowledge of the myriad uses for Haynes’ nickel and cobalt-based alloys, led a group of nine Haynes retirees to set the historical record straight.
For the past two years, the retirees — including several former vice presidents — have been crafting a narrative for the Haynes story, and sorting through box after box of records donated by the company.
The first fruit of their labors was unveiled last year when they wrote a 21-page history of Haynes for the company’s 100th birthday celebration.
Since then, they’ve been working on expanding their history in anticipation of writing a book about Haynes. Upstairs at the Elliott House, next door to the Howard County Historical Museum, they’ve got thousands of documents, photographs and artifacts spread out.
The Howard County Historical Society will eventually put all of it in archival storage.
Elwood Haynes, the company’s founder, is better known for his foray into automobile manufacturing. But his “other” company, the one which was founded to produce a better metal for cutlery, is the one which endured.
But the company doesn’t make products consumers can purchase in stores. Haynes sells alloys in billet, sheet, tube and wire form to other manufacturers. Those manufacturers turn the alloy into everything from jet turbine blades to holding tanks for corrosive chemicals.
Haynes alloy was used to replace parts of the Statue of Liberty’s original iron skeleton and to replace the spikes on Lady Liberty’s crown. The engines on all of the Apollo missions and on the Viking Mars lander used Haynes metals.