Whitesell History

Blake and Prudy Whitesell

Blake Whitesell was a decorated Marine sergeant who worked as a master tool and die maker for Ford Motor Company and All American Products of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In 1971, he and his wife Prudy co-founded Whitesell Manufacturing of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with three machines financed by a $20,000 signature loan. This small machine shop developed a reputation over time for quality cold headed and threaded fasteners and additional products.

Typical of a family business, Blake and Prudy Whitesell’s son Neil had grown up on the shop floor. Fascinated by how machines turned wire into screws, Neil learned everything about the business, from running machines to all other aspects of the operation. Neil worked full-time at Whitesell Manufacturing from a young age through his college years.

 

When Blake Whitesell died suddenly from cancer in 1985, Neil was forced to leave his studies at the University of North Alabama and take the helm of the company and its 12 employees. He was 21 years old.

Photo of Whitesell Manufacturing in Muscle Shoals Alabama showing manufacturing floor. This photo is circa 1984. A young Neil Whitesell can be seen near center bending to look at a machine set up.
Whitesell Manufacturing Circa 1985

Having faced strong competition from Japanese producers throughout the 1970’s and the 1980’s, Neil Whitesell’s course of action was to visit Asia himself and study the best practices of the world’s most competitive manufacturers at the time. Neil learned how to leverage new technologies, rationalize processes to increase efficiency, and ensure quality throughout the production cycle. These became the foundation of his budding entrepreneurship. Neil Whitesell subsequently introduced several new technologies and processes at the Muscle Shoals, Alabama facility, where he had re-imagined the North American manufacturing model in order to significantly increase production and lower overall costs. He also fundamentally transformed the traditional supply chain model, driving innovation by developing extensive, wide-ranging sole-source cost reduction programs and implementing warehousing, distribution, and logistics competencies.

 

While providing many advantages to its customers, the Whitesell Group has since experienced significant organic and acquisitive growth in the last three decades. We were also among the first North American manufacturers to establish operations in Asia. Today, under Neil Whitesell’s leadership, we are a dynamic company with unique core competencies in both manufacturing and distribution, delivering a wide range of products and comprehensive engineering, assembly, and logistics services worldwide. Our mission is to provide the greatest total value for our customers.

Photo of Whitesell International Distribution Center in Tuscumbia Alabama. Earlier morning, mist on pond.
Whitesell History November 20, 2015