A 113-year-old Hamilton company is embarking on a $6 million expansion that will give it more manufacturing and office space and help boost the city’s economic growth.
Hamilton Caster broke ground Tuesday at 1767 Dixie Highway on a plant expansion. When completed this fall, the new 65,000-square-foot facility will become Hamilton Caster’s new corporate offices. It also will house fiber lasers, robotic welders, CNC-Machines and a powder paint system, according to Dave Lippert, president and member of the fourth generation of family ownership.
The new facility will offer manufacturing and office space and extend Hamilton Caster’s lot to 6.2 total acres, expanding under-roof square footage from 102,000 to 162,000, Lippert said.
He said the company and its employees have been “cramped for space for a long time” and the expansion is overdue.
“Different things happened along the way that gave us … a little bit of extra time but we are absolutely out of space,” Lippert said. “We run two shifts in all the caster operations. Things run almost around the clock here anymore, and so we have run out of space to store stuff. We store it down the street in rented space, some of it. We’ve run out of space to add new equipment, new technologies.”
Expansion will help ease traffic woes that sometimes occur on Dixie Highway when trucks must back into the company from the busy roadway. That’s because the new facility will allow for enough room for trucks to do so on the site itself.
Hamilton Caster added employees throughout 2019 to meet production needs in advance of the new space, which replace the Hamilton Inn, a motel that police and neighbors say had generated numerous complaints and emergency calls for numerous years.
Hamilton Caster purchased the Hamilton Inn in November 2018 for $400,000. It was demolished last April.
“When you’ve got a negative in the city, where there’s a lot of calls for service, a lot of city resources being put into a structure, to turn that into a positive, whether it’s going to be manufacturing, jobs, expansion of an historic company in our town, that’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller.
Hamilton Caster began in Hamilton in 1907 in the garage of founder John Weigel. The company has been family-owned and operated for four generations. It produces industrial casters, wheels and carts for the aerospace/defense, automotive and heavy manufacturing industries.
The company’s footprint on Dixie Highway started in 1920, then expanded southward in 1927 when the company entered the floor truck market by purchasing H. Zering Manufacturing and then again in 1966. In 1984, it constructed what Lippert called “the new warehouse” to the north of the property.
Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said the company has been a stalwart presence in the city as others have departed or closed. Its leaders have been “incredible corporate citizens,” investing countless hours into the city and into the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, he said.
“It’s one thing to have a thriving manufacturing arm in your community,” he said. “It’s another to have their leadership give so much of their time.”
Hamilton Caster’s reach is vast, with its products being found in NASA facilities, automotive assembly lines, airports “anywhere in the world” and many other places,” he said.
City officials say repurposing of the land promotes continued urban renewal of the city’s east side. Lippert said they served as “the matchmaker” for the land deal by informing Hamilton Caster that the company the property was for sale and help it through “all the hassles” involved in site acquisition, demolition and construction.
“At every single juncture the city has been an ally and an expediter,” he said.
The company, like the city, has “a very productive and significant history,” Moeller said.
“Hamilton and Hamilton Caster kind of mirror each other in a lot of ways,” he said. “We are growing together.”
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