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 Business > Manufacturing

1401 Greenleaf Ave | Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 | www.milinc.com

Founded in 1942 by Robert Schiewe, Sr., Magnetic Inspection Laboratory, Inc (MIL), began as a one-man operation performing magnetic particle inspections on parts for the U.S. Government. Today, the family-owned MIL is led by 2nd and 3rd generations of ownership, and, according to its current president, Colin Schiewe, grandson of Robert, Sr., the company now functions as a “special process service provider to the aerospace industry.” Schiewe further explains, “The company provides end-of-the-line processing and certification on critical machined components ready to be put into service or integrated into higher assemblies such as jet engines, landing gear and avionics.”


MIL has become recognized as an industry leader by most aerospace prime contractors for its process diversity including non-destructive testing, metal finishing, coatings, part markings, welding, brazing, shot peening, metallurgical testing, and validation testing. “We’re a full-service processing house,” says MIL’s current president. “MIL shortens the overall manufacturing cycle time so product doesn’t spend non-value time being shipped around the country. Most of what we do enhances the part’s life cycle by improving corrosion resistance and performance characteristics.”

The work that MIL performs is very complex and sequence sensitive, in fact, most organizations fear the liability with these types of processes. “We work on parts that are mission critical,” explains Schiewe. “If that part were to fail, it could affect flight integrity and jeopardize safety.” Don Berg, Sales Manager for MIL, adds, “We process to the highest level of specification and quality requirements mandated by the aerospace industry. MIL Inc. is directly approved by companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Airbus, Raytheon, GE, Rolls Royce, Space-X, United Technologies and many others.” In addition to being a full special process aerospace supplier, our unmatched list of 2,500+ accredited special process approvals are each uniquely tied to a specification and a process, making MIL a vital link in the aerospace supply chain.

Under Robert Sr., the company primarily provided testing for the government. “In the early 1940’s, everybody focused on supplying the war effort,” says Berg. “Metallurgy and the physical demands on hardware for military parts was quickly evolving and parts needed to be inspected, tested and certified to ensure our troops had the best and most reliable equipment. Non-destructive testing, which Robert Sr. had significant marketing experience selling Magnaflux machines, became the cornerstone of our testing process for numerous types of parts and products supporting the US war machine.” In the years following, MIL continued to develop and offer additional services to its growing customer base.

In the mid-70’s, the second generation of ownership took over the business following the passing of Robert Schiewe Sr. Bob Schiewe Jr. returned home from Valparaiso University to learn and grow the business with the help of Betty Schiewe (Bob Sr’s. wife)and his brother Tim. According to Colin Schiewe, Bob Jr’s knowledge and personality became strengths of the company. “My father learned the business fairly quickly. He was extremely approachable, and was very involved with both the employees and the customers. He was an ‘everyman’ type of person who loved to joke. One of the biggest things we learned from him was the ‘everybody’s in’ approach. In other words, he knew how to encourage and recognize ideas from any level. That has continued to this day. The company’s ‘all in’ if a new idea is justified, and it gets people excited. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.”

In the early 1980’s, Tim Schiewe forged MIL’s future by introducing chemical processing. Starting with passivation of stainless steels, it quickly grew to chemical milling, zinc phosphate, chromate conversion coatings, anodizing, titanium cleaning and numerous specialty coatings. That challenge continues today as chemical processing and coatings are MIL’s mainstay processes. As a result, MIL Inc. is one of the most diversified aerospace special process providers in North America.

Under an established leadership team, the company saw tremendous growth, even during the Great Recession of the 2000’s. Berg notes “We invested heavily in capital improvements while others were suffering tremendous losses. Schiewe adds, “We were reinventing the business. We aggressively invested as a lot of companies were shedding layers. It was a great time to develop critical human resources as many industries were shutting down. The recession actually gave us an opportunity to emerge even stronger.”

As for the future of MIL, the demand for its continually evolving process-specific services is positive. Mike Noettl, Special Process Engineer for the company, explains it this way. “We are in a highly dynamic and technical market requiring constant vigilance, agility and an intimate connection within the industry.” “From the beginning, there has always been a link from one special process to another and it’s a brilliant business model started by our founder and sustaining through three generations.”

“MIL is a great place to be,” says Berg, upon reflecting on his time working for the family-owned company. “I’ve been here 19 years, and it’s never been boring. MIL has a very healthy and young culture, it’s a place where if you step up to the challenge of the job, you will be listened to and brought into the decision-making. It’s a family, and you feel that every day.”