How the worldwide leader in ultrasonic technologies, The Crest Group, is revolutionizing the industry 

Comprising 11 separate entities, The Crest Group (Crest) is the largest privately held company in the ultrasonic industry, specializing in innovative ultrasonic cleaning, thermoplastic welding, and joining equipment. With a team of world-class engineers, the company operates across 15 countries, offering a portfolio of industry-leading products that boast an unrivaled number of patents. 

Crest’s first company, Crest Ultrasonics, was founded in 1961 and has since grown into one of the largest providers of ultrasonic cleaning systems and chemistries in the world. Over time, the organization has added a further ten companies to its offering: Rinco Ultrasonics, KLN Ultraschall, Mecasonic, Advanced Ceramics, Martin Walter, Forward Technology, Piezo Kinetics, Artech Ultrasonic Systems, CC Hydrosonics, and Uthe.

Brian Kivisto, Crest’s CEO.
Brian Kivisto, Crest’s CEO.

Being involved in a broad array of ultrasonic sectors provides substantial benefits for customers, especially as Crest’s group of companies are strategically located across the globe, and can share technology, materials, and knowledge to establish industry-best practices. As a vertically integrated organization, Crest adopts a common ideology across its component manufacturers to provide cost reduction and optimize overall product quality. 

“Operating in North America, Europe, and Asia, Crest is a collection of ultrasonics manufacturers that previously managed their own operations but have since been unified to take advantage of not only the potential for corporate savings, but the synergies that allow us to collaboratively innovate,” begins Brian Kivisto, Crest’s CEO. 

“Since I took over as President in 2020, we’ve made a lot of progress and we’re starting to look more like one company instead of a group of individual operations. We’re constantly making improvements and adjustments, but our customers are beginning to see the value in the worldwide synergies and horsepower we can bring to the table as a unified organization. 

“During Covid, we were instrumental in terms of our equipment, not only on the plastics side, but also in the precision cleaning market. As ventilators and masks were in high demand, so were the production machines, for which we supplied many of the components. Our staff worked tremendously hard throughout the pandemic, and it was an honor to support our hospitals and keep products flowing during severe equipment shortages. 

“The catalyst for bringing the companies under a single umbrella was realizing that each was developing its own converter style,” Brian recalls. “Instead, we created dedicated teams of process engineers to oversee the production of such equipment across all the entities. We also established a purchasing group for agents from each entity to report to and exchange sales or application information. As a collective, the team gets faster lead times, better pricing, and access to worldwide contracts with major manufacturers. 

“Our most recent acquisition was in 2017, when we took over the piezo division of California-based company, Channel Technologies Group. This specific company produced several piezo ceramic elements and assemblies, which positively changed our product offering and enabled us to go after some of the underwater sonar jobs within the defense sector. Today, the company is a leading US manufacturer of small and specialty piezoelectric ceramic elements. 

Turning to Crest’s current operations, Brian explains: “Within the group, we’re working to bring our ultrasonic cleaning brands together under the Crest Ultrasonics name. KLN Ultraschall sells equipment throughout Europe, for example, while CC Hydrosonics sells in the UK, Northern Europe, and Canada, and Martin Water operates in Germany; as they all market and sell similar products, it makes sense to condense the brands. 

“While Crest Ultrasonics is a successful brand across the US and Asia, it is relatively unknown in Europe. Through a huge marketing push, we’re focusing on promoting the activities of Crest Ultrasonics in these geographies, and we’re excited to witness growth in these areas over the coming years from the Crest Europe Team. 

“We’re changing our marketing strategy on the cleaning side of the business in Europe too, with an aim to better reflect our solvents offering. Our new product, SolvaClean, is a vapor degreaser solvent that can directly replace 3M’s retired products, Novec 73DE and 72DA.  However, it is not only used to clean parts of solvent machinery, but it’s also a great heat transfer fluid that works like anti-freeze in your car, just on an industrial scale. Although heat transfer isn’t necessarily our area of expertise, we’re finding that customers increasingly use our solvent product for this purpose, so we’re also occupying a place in this market. Crest Digital Modular Ultrasonic Cleaning System

“We’re also launching a new vacuum degreaser,” he reveals. “Although our solvent degreasers are already some of the best in the industry in terms of emissions, this new product will completely eliminate hydrocarbon emissions and also PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) emissions with patented technology that contains all the solvent within the system. With certain regions like Germany and Southern California becoming more stringent on emissions standards, we can provide the equipment and support for manufacturers to continue production while meeting enhanced requirements.” 

As the market continues to change and evolve, particularly in light of sustainability, so too does Crest’s activity. “With increased demand for electric vehicles (EVs), we’ve increased our metal welding capabilities, as EV batteries contain five different types of batteries that must be metal welded together,” Brian explains. “We’ve developed some state-of-the-art metal welders in Japan using ultrasonic base metal welding technology, which eliminates the need for expendable secondary devices, thus providing cost savings and quick return on investment for our customers. 

“To accelerate our offering, we’re open to future acquisitions within the market that would enable us to launch metal welding projects at a much bigger scale,” he suggests as our conversation turns to Crest’s future. “We’re already strong on the ultrasonic cleaning side of the business, but we want to reach this point in our plastics and metal welding divisions too. 

“We’re excited about what the future will bring,” Brian concludes. “We’ll keep growing organically to maintain our position as industry leaders and continue providing solutions that minimize our customers’ carbon footprints, through recycling and smart power management.”