John M. Storm
President & CEO Contour Hardening
B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering, Purdue University
Wife – Mary Ann
Purdue’s John M. Storm knows a thing or two about setting the standard for others to follow. Maybe that is why John has been honored by everyone from Purdue University to the Society of Manufacturing Engineering.
In his first professional job out of the box, John’s innovations resulted in corporate annual savings of $6,000,000. That’s right, 6 million dollars. In 1977, John started working as a process metallurgist for Detroit Diesel Allison, a division of General Motors. John was in charge of testing a furnace the size of a small building. The result was John being on the edge of creating a new industry standard for furnace applications. John created a furnace application utilizing a methanol nitrogen atmosphere, which saved GM over 6 million dollars per year.
After that savings, John was provided a small staff and given the opportunity to work on whatever project he wanted to. John decided to begin with creating an advanced computer-controlled heat treating process for gears. This process eventually became the Micropulse Process, which GM declined to patent. So in 1986, John and GM gear specialist Mike Chapin decided to patent the Micropulse Process and go it alone and created Contour Hardening Inc. Their goal for their company was to create a cost-effective solution to difficult heat treatment applications.
During the first five years of their business, they did not sell a single one of their large expensive machines. In fact, John estimates losing between three and four million dollars. But in 1990, Contour Hardening sold its first system to an overseas transmission manufacturer. The rest fell into place from there. Between June 1995 and January 1997, Contour Hardening Inc. had a 300% growth period. In 2002, sales were $11 million.
This married father of two is also an avid race enthusiast and in 1997, for the first time in racing history, advanced hardening and process control technology was used, resulting in a first and second place win at the Indianapolis 500! Arie Luyendyk crossed the finish line first and Scott Goodyear crossed second, both, using Contour Hardening’s patented gears, which are stronger, lighter than and twice as strong as the industry standards. In 2001, CHI sponsored driver Sam Hornish, Jr. of Panther Racing who in 2001 won 3 IRL races and the 2001 IRL Championship. CHI’s gear designs and induction gear hardening can be found in CART, Score (off-highway series) and FIA sanctioned race vehicles.