Global Fastener News

2012 FIN – Chicago Hardware Started 100 Years Ago as Downtown Factory Supplying Agriculture

August 06
00:00 2012


One hundred years ago there was a market for producing malleable wire rope clips for agriculture as an improvement to wrapping cable around silos. Farmers were the first customers for Chicago Hardware & Fixture Co.
In 2012 Chicago Hardware is marking its 100th anniversary of its founding by John Herbstritt as Chicago Warehouse & Silo Fixture Co.
Producing for farms led to other products such as shackles and turnbuckles.
Today Chicago Hardware manufactures wire rope and chain fittings, indusrial and mare hardware and allied products.
“Mr. Herbstritt started the business to fulfill a need for basic hardware components marketed to the farming and railroad industries,” the company stated. “Beginning with wire rope clips used to support grain silos being supported by cable, he began developing other wire rope accessories to expand the product offering.”
Third generation owner Tom Herbstritt and his son Brian Herbstritt now operate the company.

In 1946, the company moved from a landlocked facility just two miles west of the Chicago Loop to a newly constructed plant in suburban Franklin Park with room to expand. Over the years there have been multiple additions to the plant.
In 1952 the Herbstritt family purchased a forging plant in downtown Batavia, IL. A new building was constructed and the plant was moved to an industrial section of town in 1966, where it is located today.
A wire drawing facility was built in 1980 within three miles of the Franklin Park plant. This plant draws wire for threaded rod, u-bolts, eyebolts and various other wire forms.
Currently the company’s Batavia plant is being expanded to house new equipment. All the steel used to forge Chicago Hardware products is made in the U.S.

Jim Sullivan, national sales manager, has been with Chicago Hardware just over a third of its history.  Sullivan started in inside sales and eventually succeeded national sales manager John Ward, who was with Chicago Hardware for over 25 years.
When Chicago Hardware hired Sullivan 34 years ago, approximately 60% of sales were through distributors, he recalled. Today it is over 95%.
Distributors could better serve end users, Sullivan explained. “Manufacturers can’t walk both sides of the street.”
Today there is more branding by manufacturers and thus “more brand awareness getting to the end users,” Sullivan observed.
“Through wars and recessions they’ve done it right,” Sullivan summarized the family’s building the business over the century. He cited their “devotion and capital investments at the right time. They’ve been smart and frugal, but not afraid to invest in areas for growth.”
Sullivan also pointed to Chicago Hardware’s employees’ role in the company’s endurance. “The family has taken care of employees and as a result we have multiple people who were with the company for 45-plus years,” Sullivan noted.
The current inside sales staff averages more than 20 years with Chicago Hardware, Sullivan pointed out.

Today Chicago Hardware continues to expand.  In addition to the Batavia plant expansion, more equipment and machinery – such as additional wire forming equipment – is being added.
Boosting sales in the past year or more is the “Buy American” provision of recession legislation, Sullivan finds. Beyond the requirements of the law, customers are “just interested in supporting domestic manufacturing,” he added.
Sullivan is assisted by regional sales managers Bryon Sterger and Mike Stamm. They oversee territory reps around the country.

Chicago Hardware has stocking locations in the Atlanta, Houston and Southern California markets and is headquartered at 9100 Parklane Ave., Franklin Park, IL 60131. Tel: 847 455-6609 E-mail: Web: ©2012

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