“Our largest trading partner is in Israel, so we do a lot of business with GE Healthcare in Israel, but they build stuff in different places, so we make these large sensors, and our sensors go on their call-meters they use for scanning. So we’re selling stuff that goes to their division that does gamma cameras,” Hall said. “They build a lot of them in the Netherlands.
We have a couple customers in the Netherlands, but most of the business in the Netherlands, they actually buy panels from us, so we’ll negotiate a contract with GE for the year… and some of them they ship directly to Haifa in Israel. Some of us they will tell us to ship to another company in Israel, and then some of them they’ll ship to the Netherlands. And those people who produce these call meters will attach our part and then they ship the entire thing. That’ll all GE Israel, but it still goes to different places.“
Hall explained that as an industrial printer, the company works in about five different segments including medical, aviation, industrial equipment and consumer products, most of which remain in the United States. But the percentage of international sales has been growing, particularly as Hall builds a relationship with General Electric, which has divisions in Israel, China, Japan and is growing and buying new companies all the time, according to Hall.
“Most of what we’re doing overseas is actually medical,” he said. “There are occasions where we sell aviation and some other things, because we have customers all over the place, but from a volume standpoint it’s really mostly medical, and that drives our business. Sixty percent of our business is medical in any given year. Probably 10 percent plus is aviation, we have another 10 percent that is probably industrial automation. A percentage of it is consumer products, and then we do stuff for scientific and testing equipment, anything you can think of. If you think about it, everything needs a switch, a sensor, an overlay, a nameplate or a label telling you what it is. Everything out there has something on it.”
According to the company website, The Hall Company has been providing world-class solutions to customers in the sensor, printed electronics and identification product markets globally since 1961. William D. Hall Sr., who was an aeronautical engineer by trade, founded The Hall Company in his basement in Urbana initially to serve the aerospace industry. The company’s initial product offerings included metal nameplates, foil labels, printed lenses and metal control panels. The Hall Company supported the budding space program by providing printed lenses and nameplates to the Gemini and Apollo space missions. As the company grew its engineering and production capabilities, it started producing graphical overlays and printed circuit boards.
“In the 1970s plastics hit the market, and that changed everything,” said Kyle Hall. “We started doing a lot of plastic printed overlays … Then in the late ’70s printed electronics hit the market and become one of our biggest businesses. We got one of the first patents in the United States for a membrane switch. It took off and became our largest volume business, and it still is today.
“We think we exported our first part in 1993, and that went to Hong Kong,” he added. “When my father (James) was around they did a lot in Germany, a lot in Japan, but our sales were at a lower level. They’re higher now, so back then it was probably a lower percentage of total sales.
Over the last several years it’s just really taken off, and it’s been by a couple customers.”
Hall said that today his company exports switches and high-tech sensors to companies all over the world, but particularly to General Electric, as well as an American corporation that does its manufacturing in Mexico.
“That customer moved their production from the United States to Mexico, so that’s not great for the American economy, but we were able to hold onto it, so it’s good from that standpoint,” Hall said. “We’re still exporting that … we’ve been doing business with GE for 40-something years and now pretty much when they need a switch like this anywhere in the world they just contact us.”
Hall said they began doing business with the Israeli Ministry of Defense around 2008, but had previously worked with a smaller company in Israel that now works with General Electric.
Kyle Hall is the third generation of his family to take on the role of company president, following his father James’s passing in 2008, and said he has seen the technology change even in his 11 years at the helm.
“We’ve looked more to digital,” he said. “We’ve gone from membrane switches to looking for a lot of capacitive technology - more of whole builds instead of just selling a switch or a circuit. We’re doing a lot more valueadded assembly. We’re looking at growing our current customer base and how we can really concentrate on expanding with them, and that’s going to lead to some new international things.
We anticipate our international business to double over the next five years, based on what our customers are doing, which would be very good for us.”
Hall is currently a member of the Champaign Economic Partnership’s board and says he tries to support them as much as he can.
“I think it’s a good entity for the county from an economic development standpoint,” he said.
“I think it works well. When the city was doing one thing and the county was doing another thing it was kind of all over the place, it was complex. So I think now that everyone’s pooled resources it makes sense.”
His company is also a member of the Dayton Development Corporation and Hall served on their board several years ago. The DDC hosted a seminar to introduce local businesses to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and to give them information about quoting and bidding services.
Hall said he was unable to attend the seminar due to a quality audit scheduled for the same day, but he did travel to Dayton to have lunch with Israeli representatives the next day.
“It was kind of just a meet and greet to see how we could partner,” Hall said. “I think they’re looking for whole pieces of equipment like cars and tanks and things like that, whereas we just make components.
But we got some ideas for how we can look at it, and we are registering with the IMOD to see if we could quote something at all, because there could be something we do that could be a replacement part or something of that nature.”
Last year, 21 percent of Hall’s international sales went directly to Israel.
Another 44 percent of sales went to the Netherlands, but Hall explained that most of those products will end up in Israel.
While Hall creates both tier one and tier two components, the company they work with in the Netherlands is a total second tier provider.
Hall said he has traveled overseas when it is necessary, but because GE is based in America it is often more convenient to have GE representatives visit Urbana. He said that GE moved a lot of their medical business to China a few years ago and no longer builds anything at their corporate offices in Milwaukee.
“Our international business is based off of long-standing relationships with companies that are just doing stuff overseas,” Hall said. “We do have smaller companies that will reach out to us, they’ll find us on the web and stuff like that, but it’s really more driven by GE and ComEd and Siemens and people like that.”
Despite Hall’s international ambitions, the company still hires a largely local workforce, has maintained a head count of about 35 employees at their local plant, and currently has open positions they are looking to fill. In this way, Hall hopes to strengthen the economy both for entry-level manufacturing specialists seeking a job, and for the country as a whole.
“The best way to fix an economy, whether it’s broken or just to improve it, is to make something here, send it overseas, and bring those dollars back here,” Hall said.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304
The water main replacement work is funded by a 0% interest loan and a grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission. The roundabout safety improvements and final resurfacing total approximately $1.2 million, with federal Small Cities, Safety, and Urban Resurfacing funds through the Ohio Department of Transportation paying approximately $950,000 of these costs.
The fifth phase of the project has closed Miami Street between Monument Square and Walnut Street since Sept. 23. This section of roadway is scheduled to reopen on or before Nov. 6.
The Miami Street closure was planned to be the shortest closure of the project, but a week of closure is being added to assist the contractor in the final resurfacing work on the project. This closure will be equal in duration to the previous closures for the other legs of the project. Local and state route detours will remain posted.
The sixth and final phase of the project involves the final resurfacing of the project area, including the milling of the existing pavement surface, resurfacing and striping. Weather permitting, the contractor plans to mill the existing pavement surface on two consecutive evenings during the nighttime hours beginning Sunday, Oct. 27. Due to forecasted overnight temperatures during the week of Oct. 27, the paving work has been scheduled to occur during daytime hours versus the overnight paving schedule originally planned.
On-street parking restrictions will be posted within work areas during the milling and resurfacing work, and vehicles parked in violation will be towed. During some phases of paving work, thru-traffic may be restricted. In addition, flaggers will be used by the contractor to maintain traffic.
Businesses will remain open during this final construction phase, and city officials ask that residents and visitors patronize downtown businesses. On-street parking within the project area will be affected during the paving work, but nearby parking lots and on-street parking outside the project area will remain available.
For timely updates due to weather delays during the pavement resurfacing portion of the project, check the city’s website (urbanaohio. com) and Facebook page.
Abandoned Knights of Pythias Lodge part of 2019 Urban Loft Tour
Photo 1: The Knights of Pythias Lodge has been closed and dark for 125 years, but this adornment in the old lodge still tells a story of what transpired within during a different era.
Photo 2: The mechanical parts of this old commercial elevator are from a time gone by in downtown Urbana.
Photo 3: The exterior of this freshly-painted and remodeled downtown apartment is one of the examples of what can be done with old, lofty spaces in Urbana.
The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) is hosting its fifth annual Urban Loft Tour on November 2 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The tour will have seven stops and features the upper floors of many downtown buildings in Urbana. The Urban Loft Tour illustrates the possibilities and potential for restoring downtown lofts and the benefits of urban living in Urbana.
In addition to the former Knights of Pythias Hall, this year’s tour will feature three finished loft spaces that are now the home to downtown dwellers. It will also feature one large building that is about to undergo restoration into a full two story family home on the second and third floors that once housed the Urbana Masonic Lodge from 1883 until 1916. Plus visitors will be able to see the continued progress on the Gloria Theater and the NX-23 Rail Car.
“We are excited to continue to show the potential of our loft spaces here in Urbana,” said CCPA Trustee Sandy Gonzalez. “Our loft tours have convinced at least six building owners to renovate their upstairs spaces and make the downtown more vibrant.” At the moment there are about 14 new loft spaces being created in Urbana.
The 2019 Urban Loft Tour will require climbing many stairs and is not handicap accessible. Tour goers are asked to bring flashlights and wear warm clothing.
Presale tickets are available for $12 and will be redeemed for tour booklets only at the Gloria Theater on the day of the tour. Tickets are available at most Urbana Bank locations, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, and online at www.ccpapreserveohio. org.
Information from the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.
$40K will be spent to look at challenges facing Urbana, county’s 3 villages
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” she added.
The study will cost $40,000, and it will be paid for with funds set aside by Champaign County commissioners to be used for economic development, Bailey said. The study aims to compare municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as aging housing stock, a fair number of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
Bailey said the study will be similar to the one recently conducted in Springfield that looked at what the city could do to attract new housing opportunities.
The Comprehensive Housing Market Analysis for Springfield was released in August and made six major recommendations to city officials.
Those recommendations included playing into preexisting assets, continued focus on downtown revitalization and rehabbing existing housing stock.
Bailey said her organization is looking to do the same in Champaign County and wants to use the findings of their study to make the area more marketable to developers. She said that includes looking at what new housing options would work best in the county, whether that would be smaller single family homes or loft apartments in recently renovated buildings.
“One of the big things that we are looking at right now is what type of housing is in demand,” she said. “We are seeing more loft apartments in downtown Urbana for example. We want to continue that trend.”
Bill Bean, the mayor of Urbana, said his city is landlocked and there is not much land available to develop new single family homes. He said, instead, some property owners in downtown Urbana are turning the second and third stories of their buildings into loft apartments.
“Instead of growing out, we are growing up,” he said.
Bailey said in the city’s Monument Square, she estimates 10 loft apartments and says more are currently being developed.
However, the city’s last major housing development was completed in the early 2000s. The subdivision known as Parmore Estates, on the eastern edge of the city, consisted of 90 single family lots as well as two condo sections of 20 lots each, according to its developer Bill Parker, who is the president of Par-Mee Development Corp.
He is currently working on a subdivision called Park Place of Urbana. The first phase of that project will consist of 13 small, patio/single family homes along Powell Avenue, which is expected to be completed in the next two years, Parker said.
Bean said, however, land for new housing developments can be hard to find in the city. He said it depends on whether property owners are interested in selling their property or are working with a developer.
“In order for us to grow, we need to get developers to look at us. We need to let them know what we have to offer,” he said.
Bean said he believes the housing study will be a good tool for future development not only in Urbana but also in the county as a whole.
Greg Kimball, the mayor of Mechanicsburg, said his village has similar housing problems such as the lack of available land for new developments and a limited number of developers operating in the area. He said there is also a fair number of nuisance properties in the village.
Kimball said he hopes the study will help them work around those issues as the village hopes to reassess its housing stock while working to increase property values.
Contact this reporter at 937- 328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@cmg.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
Estimated population of Champaign County in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau
Number of cities and villages in Champaign County that will be examined as part of the housing study
The cost of the housing study, which is expected to be completed in January
The Springfield News-Sun has provided extensive coverage of housing and employment issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on wages, job opportunities and a recent housing study conducted in Springfield.
The Dayton, Ohio area is expanding and getting a new area code. As the area’s number-one provider for telephone service in Champaign County, CT Comm wants to make sure that local residents remain informed regarding the new change.
Area code 937 has covered Bellefontaine, Dayton, Fairborn, Hillsboro, Marysville, Preble County, Springfield, Wilmington, Urbana, Xenia, and areas both north and east of Cincinnati since 1996. With Dayton, Ohio and surrounding areas expanding, the current area code is no longer able to accommodate the population’s need for unique number combinations. To address this, a new area code is being added: 326.
The new area code, 326, which spells out “DAO” (as in Dayton, Ohio) on a traditional keypad, is scheduled to provide overlay for the 937 area in early 2020. On February 8, 2020, traditional seven-digit calling will no longer be available and callers will have to dial ten digits to make a call. The change is expected to take place in a series of steps, with completion anticipated for January 2020.
A transition period is expected to begin August 10, 2019 with mandatory 10-digit and 11-digit dialing going into effect February 8, 2020. March 8, 2020 is the earliest that new numbers will be activated using the new 326 area code.
All local residents should be aware of the following:
Individuals, families and businesses can be assured that the new 326 area code is recognized as valid in the following areas:
automatic dialing equipment
any other types of equipment (as applicable)
Internet dial-up numbers
alarm and security systems
mobile phone contact lists
call forwarding settings
voicemail services (and any similar functions)
personal or pet ID tags
medical alert devices
Please note: Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment should be done between August 10, 2019 and February 8, 2020.
CT Comm is available to answer any questions you have regarding this upcoming transition. Please feel free to call our Champaign County office at (937) 653-4000, option zero for CT Comm Customer Service.
Additionally, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio offers extensive information regarding the overlay plan. You can learn more by visiting this page.
Customer Service & Sales Manager
Phone: (937) 653-4000; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About CT COMM
CT Comm (www.ctcomm.net) is an Internet and network solutions provider that services businesses and residential customers in Champaign County. Established in 1898 as the Champaign County Telephone Company, CT Comm is the second-largest independently owned telecommunications company in the United States. CT Comm is committed to the innovation and strategic implementation of products and services that are relevant, critical, and valuable to the needs of local individuals, families, and businesses.
“I’m from here, and I got my first haircut in this shop,” he said. “It was available for rent and I guess I just always had an interest in cutting hair in my hometown. I had a successful shop in Troy and I just handed it over to a guy I worked with and moved home.”
October is National Manufacturing Month
“We are fortunate to have such diversity of manufacturing in Champaign County,” said Marcia Bailey, CEP Director. “We want our young people to understand the career choices that exist in manufacturing and having this opportunity helps them gain first-hand knowledge. We have approximately 3,700 people working in manufacturing in our community and many companies are looking for skilled employees.”
Last year, the CEP, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, Urbana University, and manufacturers from around the area created the inaugural Champaign County Design Challenge. After a successful first year, the design challenge is returning. For the second year in a row, approximately 90 students from Graham, Mechanicsburg, Triad, Urbana, and West Liberty-Salem are participating.
The student teams were challenged to design a mousetrap race car within a series of criteria and constraints under the guidance of an industry mentor. Each school participating can have up to four teams with five students and is open to middle or high school students. For the challenge, the mousetrap car must include five simple machines and four wheels with the goal of the car going 20 feet. The teams cannot purchase or 3D print materials.
The mentors for the teams are Steven Brandeberry from JWP, Zack Zizzo and Stephen Oser from Orbis, Mike Wagner from Navistar, Colin Turcu, Hayden Gephart, and Ethan Hess from KTH, Jeff Helman from Rosewood Machine and Tool, Jacob Schmitt from Ultra-Met, Dan Yohey from Rittal, Tyler Bumbalough from the Urbana City Engineering division, and Steve McCall from Champaign County Engineer.
“The goal of the design challenge is to expose students to local manufacturers, interact with professionals, and use their creativity to complete a project,” said Allison Koch, Ohio Hi-Point Satellite Supervisor. “The groups are being judged on their collaboration and their ability to explain their successes and challenges.”
The teams compete at their school district and the winning team from each school district advance to the countylevel competition held at Urbana University on November 1. All participants are invited to listen to the finalists present each team’s design to the judges.
During the event, students are also able to participate in a tradeshow with local manufacturers.
“Design thinking happens at the intersection of art and science. Designers direct our lifestyle, create our products, and shape the environments where we live, work, and play,” said Dr. Christopher Washington, Executive Vice President and CEO of Urbana University. “Urbana University is proud to host the Champaign County Design Challenge event for young designers in our region.”
The Champaign County Design Challenge trophy is currently housed at last year’s winning school, Triad High School.
For more information about manufacturing programs for students, please visit www.ohiohipoint.com or www.urbana.edu.