Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

West Coast Insulation Celebrates 40 Years


September 1, 2017

West Coast Insulation & Waterjet at the Pacific Marine Expo: Booth 901.

West Coast Insulation Inc was founded in 1977 to service the maritime industry as a manufacturer of high quality exhaust blankets, as well as installing marine thermal, sound and fire protection. Mike Heckinger found a niche market where a purveyor of affordable and durable insulation products was needed, so he seized the opportunity and started a small manufacturing operation out of his garage. Quickly building a reputation for providing top of the line custom products at a reasonable price, Mike grew his business into one of the premier manufacturers of exhaust lagging in the greater Seattle area.

Mike found stability working for clients with equipment ranging from small fishing vessels to large commercial processors, taking on retrofits and new build projects.

As West Coast Insulation grew, Heckinger's son Chris joined the team.

Over time, as the company continued to grow, Mike Heckinger was able to expand its capabilities and resources, eventually taking on large scale production projects such as the US Coast Guard Medium Response Boat 45 (RB-M). The team at WCI completed numerous boats over the course a several years, and still provides support services to fleet operations. This project was special as the production team was able to utilize waterjet cutting and precision kitting to decrease manufacturing time and increase installation efficiency. This allowed for a smaller staff to service more vessels, vastly decreasing per vessel production time. Moving to the present location at West Commodore Way near Fishermen's Terminal in the early 2000's the company evolved, transforming the internal waterjet operations into a standalone waterjet cutting company – West Coast Waterjet. While this may seem to be an illogical combination, Mike had the vision to use high-pressure water to cut insulation packages for production projects such as the RB-M. The combination of speed and accuracy achieved through newly purchased machines provided the ability to service other projects for vessel owners such as cutting flanges, deck plates, and structural components.

West Coast Insulation produces several insulation products that are cut on the waterjet, from custom engine turbo covers, to engine manifold covers, as the ability to control quality and uniformity allows for a superior finished piece. Not wanting to be left out, the team at WCW has strived to become a leading company in the waterjet cutting industry. They found success in servicing a wide variety of clientele in aerospace, architecture/design, and marine construction, which allowed their growth to be controlled and diversified.

West Coast Waterjet procured two state of the art waterjet cutting machines that helped bring them to the forefront of their industry. Featuring a Flow International MACH 3 60,000 PSI machine and a larger, custom configured MACH 4c with an impressive 90,000 PSI flowing from two cutting heads; West Coast Waterjet can tackle the thickest materials with astonishing precision. Maintaining a balance of individual small-scale projects to high quantity production runs, the staff at WCW specializes in working with clients large and small to achieve their desired result.

Over the past five years West Coast Waterjet has evolved, not just with new equipment, receiving certification for ISO 9001:2015 – previously certified to ISO 9001:2008. The team consists of an office staff of programs, sales, and quality personnel and a production staff of highly qualified operators. Darrel Kibel, Office Manager/ QSM leads the front office, supported by Kris Glaze, Lead Programmer, and John Person, Programmer. Their experience in the industry allows for quick response time to quote requests and rapid order creation for expedited projects. In production, Zach Boguth, Production Manager, brings years of experience in waterjet cutting and maintenance operations.

Frequently, the production staff takes on projects that clients say, "no one else would cut this". Kevin Gorham, Waterjet Operator, has spent several years in waterjet production and metal manufacturing and rounds out the team.

West Coast Waterjet focuses on the team approach, which provides for enhanced effectiveness when working to meet our clients needs both on complicated projects and expedited orders.

Seeing the potential for even more growth, West Coast Insulation started working on a custom design for encapsulated engine manifold covers, created to be used on large format diesel engines. The goal was to create a durable, high performance encapsulated system that would meet SOLAS requirements. Utilizing in-house design and engineering staff, WCI was able to effectively engineer and produce 3 configurations of encapsulated manifold covers for the Cruise Ship industry. WCI regularly produces custom lagging, raw goods, and prototype systems to support cruise ship technical operations worldwide.

Presently, West Coast Insulation and West Coast Waterjet are prospering at the West Commodore Way location. The insulation side takes pride in providing a variety of marine insulation solutions from standard lagging to custom systems. The experienced staff will always try to find a solution that meets their client's needs, and hopefully exceeds their expectations. The waterjet component has enjoyed a steady volume of production work, mixed with individual projects. The programming staff is well versed in CAD, and will work with clients to ensure projects are translated for waterjet cutting. The production staff has almost a decade of experience running waterjet machines, and specializes in custom jig creation and complicated, high-risk projects. The range of projects spans from cutting small glass jewelry, to 6-inch thick aluminum, and everything in-between.

40 years of continuous operation is a feat that is rarely seen these days. Surviving changing markets, good years and bad, West Coast Insulation under the supervision and drive of Mike Heckinger has thrived, becoming a fixture in the local maritime community. With the primary goal of providing the best service, the company has grown adding a full time Operations Manager, Kalin Tobin, and a team of experienced technicians led by Vaughn Kline, Insulation Department Manager.

Chris Heckinger continues to work with new and existing clients, mentoring the staff and providing insight. As the Vice President of the company and now with more than 20 years in the industry, he provides insulation expertise to clients assisting them with insulation plans, and material utilization evaluations.

Chris works sales, estimation, and client development; providing insight on appropriate installation techniques to ensure the required vessel specifications are being adhered to. He has traveled globally supporting insulation projects and overseeing a large number of custom insulation system installs. He has worked closely with prototype development, and is at home brainstorming design elements to meet the rigorous demands of maritime operations.

Chris Heckinger is also vital in the mentoring of new employees while working hand-in-hand with staff to ensure quality standards are being met and consistency is maintained. He has the unique ability to combine insulation projects with waterjet projects, which gives clients a whole new level of one-stop service when conducting vessel repair and upgrades.

Not wanting to limit the company's reach, West Coast Insulation has recently launched a new e-commerce website: which is geared toward offering insulation products and accessories worldwide. With a local warehouse for managing stock and a full time Logistics Coordinator, Derek Cantiberos, the company is poised to leap forward into the global economy.

West Coast Insulation & Waterjet is a company focused on meeting the needs of their clients and staff. With several employees having over five years of continued service and a clientele base that spans decades, there are no words to describe the feelings of gratitude and accomplishment reinforced through the support shown by the maritime community.

Encapsulated Manifold Cover after a year+ of service.

Mike Heckinger continues to be involved in company operations, working on new product development and fostering partnerships with clients and vendors alike. His commitment and desire to support his staff and his community is unwavering. The staff in turn continues to focus on providing responsive service, quality products, and industry expertise, the staff at WCI continues to grow and build upon the foundation that Mike Heckinger laid forty years ago.

Kalin Tobin is the Operations Manager and Corporate Secretary for West Coast Insulation Inc d/b/a West Coast Waterjet. He is a Pacific Northwest Native, and has been with the company for 2-1/2 years. Kalin has a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in project management.


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