Helping a Third-Generation Precision Stamper in Chicago Retool to Meet Demand
Jul 18, 2012
Three years ago, Wiegel Tool Works was faced with a challenge many companies would like to have. After having weathered the downturn of 2009 thanks to Wiegel’s conservative focus, the company saw demand for their products pick up and had to consider whether they had the manufacturing capacity and financing they needed in place. They turned to their team at Bank of America to help them manage what turned out to be a phase of significant growth.
The company, which got its start making custom tools and dies, was founded by German immigrant Otto Wiegel a day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. From a modest beginning, he created a going concern. A journeyman tool and die maker by trade, Wiegel started the company to create progressive dies for basic products; Wiegel Tool Works spent its first decades manufacturing products like door hinges and brackets, phonograph and pinball machine components, and small electrical motors.
Over the next decades, and through 1994, the business evolved. Steel largely gave way to electrical components. Wiegel’s clients are now 80% in automotive, as well as in telecommunications and solar. Newer, technologically advanced equipment was needed to produce dies and stamped components to clients’ higher standards and tighter tolerances.
In 2008 and 2009, Wiegel Tool Works proactively set out to improve efficiencies and revamp operations by embracing the latest technologies. As the economy improved, they were able to invest in new projects and expand in the process. In three years, they doubled revenues from $15 to $32 million, boosted hiring, and outgrew their single warehouse.
Their team at Bank of America helped them on many fronts, including providing a suite of lending and treasury management services. The bank helped them finance the purchase of an adjacent parcel of land for warehouse space and build an addition on their existing facility that almost doubled their square footage. They also helped them finance a new state-of-the-art piece of equipment, a Minster press, to help them stay on the cutting edge. Lastly, they provided advice and counsel about the direction of the industry and the state of the economy.
Through three generations, Wiegel has been a family-run business. On Otto’s death in 1971, the company’s reins passed to his son Marty, and in 2010, they passed to Marty’s children Aaron, Erica and Ryan. Many of Wiegel’s employees have been with the company 20, 30, even 40 years, and the company treats them like family too. Says Aaron Wiegel, “We’ve tried to give our people the training in new technologies they need and move them up, and to develop a culture that will be a recipe for success. With the strong demand we continue to see, the future is unlimited.”
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