Industrialist Hoffer now Hall of Famer
By Jon Hawley
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
A national trade association has honored Ken Hoffer of Elizabeth City-based Hoffer Flow Controls for a lifetime of quality and innovative manufacturing.
The Measurement, Control and Automation Association has inducted Hoffer as the eighth member of its Hall of Fame. Hoffer won the honor at an industry forum in Arizona earlier this month. His daughter and Hoffer Flow Control’s vice president of sales in North America, Sandee Kelly, accepted the award then on his behalf, and MCAA President Teresa Sebring visited Elizabeth City on Tuesday to honor him in person.
Sharing remarks and research from Kelly, Sebring honored Hoffer for designing and producing flowmeters. The devices precisely measure liquid and gas flows — sometimes in extreme conditions — and are critical to many and diverse sectors, including oil and gas companies, pharmaceutical companies, the military and more.
Sebring recounted Tuesday that Hoffer served in the Air Force before going to work for Potter Aeronautical in New Jersey. The company closed in 1968, but customers still looked to Hoffer for parts. So he opened his own company out of his garage a year later and eventually relocated to Elizabeth City, growing the business along the way. Hoffer Flow Controls now occupies a 40,000-square-foot facility that includes machining, fabrication, testing, calibration and more.
Beyond entrepreneurial success, Sebring noted Hoffer's career included some innovations, including the first “cyrogenic legal-for-trade flow measurement system” for bulk delivery truck transports in the 1980s, and developing the “first and only” flowmeter certified by the Navy for use in nuclear propulsion and to get a certain shock and vibration certification.
The company also produces flowmeters to handle fossil fuels, caustic chemicals, and a new “all-teflon” flowmeter for “ultra-pure” chemical service.
Accepting the Hall of Fame award, Hoffer, 87, said he was “overwhelmed,” and said the company's accomplishments wouldn't have happened without his “wonderful” employees.
Hoffer Flow Controls employs around 80 people, according to spokeswoman Janna Critcher.
Sebring also said the MCAA has 173 members, ranging from very small, “niche” companies to major manufacturers such as Siemens. The members produce vital components for many industries, leading Sebring to quip, “the inside joke is we run the world.”