According to Amedro, Weidmann has always been involved in creating electrical transformers. The company’s main product is paper and board, which he says is really just thick paper, made the same way and pressed together to become board.
“It all goes into transformers, whether it be a transformer on a pole to power generation to transformers like at Dayton Power & Light,” he said.
“It’s utilized to, obviously, insulate the transformer from shorting out. So it’s a very important part of the transformer. Our company has developed itself into what I call a cradle to grave company, and what I mean by that is we have transformer engineers on our payroll that help design transformers and work with customers.
We have a lot of experience and have people from Westinghouse, for example, that we hired in. They’ll help develop the new transformer designs with a customer.
Of course, with that we’re suggesting to use Weidmann insulation as we go. So they design the transformer, then they make it, then at that point they’re utilizing paper and board into these transformers. And these transformers, in the way we look at the business, are in two different categories, and we consider power transformers the bigger ones, like DP&L and bigger substations that use mainly a lot of board - more board than paper - but they also use paper to wrap the wire.
The distribution side is smaller transformers, which would be on top of a telephone pole.
Between each layer would be either a copper sheet or an aluminum sheet. It is then wound with copper, paper, copper, paper, built out to the size of a transformer.
“Once they complete it and it’s out in the field, we also have a division that does monitoring of the oil,” he continued.
“All these transformers are filled with oil, and that’s what helps cool them and insulate them as well. We have a whole separate lab division kind of like you go to a doctor and you get your blood test, and they tell you all your results as to cholesterol and what not - well, they do the same thing to the oil. So if they find certain gasses and things in that oil it will tell them the life of the insulation. So we monitor that. And then on top of our oil testing we also design monitors they can attach to these transformers that’ll measure temperature, moisture, gasses and things like that, and they can do online measuring.
Customers will also come to us at times to do a post mortem to find out why it failed, so we take it apart to find out why. So cradle to grave.”
Of the company’s sales volume, Amedro said that about 66 percent of what they make stays in North America, 11 percent goes to Mexico, 11 percent goes to Brazil, 4 percent goes to Europe, one percent goes to Turkey, 3 percent goes to the Asian Pacific region and 3 percent goes to China.
“In each one of these locations we have a sister company that we can ship to and they’ll convert it, and then they’ll ship to the various people in that country,” he said. “We do occasionally ship directly to a customer in Korea.
Sam-Dong is one of the larger customers. They also have a site in Tennessee that we ship paper to and they make the wire and wrap it with the paper.”
Weidmann’s first step into the American market occurred about 50 years ago, according to Amedro, with the purchase of a plant in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
“That’s how they got their first foot into the U.S., in St. Johnsbury,” he said. “From that point, then, as they grew they bought two more converting operations.
They bought them from Avery-Denison. One operation was in Framingham, Massachusetts, making the lightweight papers into crepe - makes it stretchy - it starts with standard paper and then we run it through the crepe operation. This crepe paper is then sold to wire companies. Then they also bought an operation just outside St. Louis in O’Fallon, Missouri, and they took the heavier paper and they put this diamond dot on it that is an epoxy resin and that resin, what that does, is after they, the transformer maker, get done wrapping this all together layer after layer they put a clamp on it and they set it in an oven and they bake it, and this epoxy diamond touching the copper bakes it all together so it becomes a solid unit.”
Amedro said that as competition has gotten more intense in the last ten years, Weidmann decided it would be a better idea to move all their operations under one roof. They decided on the 700 W. Court St. property and bought it in 2010.
“As they were going around looking for operations, most of the heaviest part of our customers are east of the Mississippi. So we had looked in Tennessee, probably Indiana and a couple other places to be more centrally located between east and west,” he said. “We very seldom ship material to the west coast, but we ship a lot of overseas stuff, so we needed good access to highways, and the timing was right. We looked for a property that already had the infrastructure there, water systems, effluent systems, had the air systems and everything set up. That’s why this site became very attractive.”
The building where Weidmann’s Urbana operations are located was originally built in 1910 and started out as the Howard Paper Company, established in 1895. According to Amedro, the Howard family sold the property in 1965, at which point it passed through several hands before it was purchased by the Fox River Paper Company in 1991. Around 2007 the property was again purchased by Neenah, Inc., who Amedro said ran the paper business for about eight months and then shut it down and gutted it.
Several years later, Jerry Damewood bought the building to use as a warehouse, but got rid of the machines on the mill and converting side.
“Jerry had bought the whole building when we came in,” Amedro said.
“We wouldn’t take over the rest of the property until we got a clean bill of health from the EPA, because the old property had a coal fire boiler, it had asbestos and all that, so the city actually bought the rest of the property and through a brownfield grant they got it cleaned up. Once that was cleaned up and we got a covenant not to sue from the city and state, then we took it over. That’s when we started building our operation.
“We then built it up the way we’re set up now,” he added. “The company decided they were going to put everything in one house, so they moved the whole Framingham and O’Fallon operations here for the converting - that’s what’s in the center part of our building and a little part on the west. And then the paper machine went in on the far east of the same building, and that’s the original building - the 1910 building.
So now everything’s done under one roof. We make our own paper and convert our own stuff.”
Weidmann still operates the board mill in Vermont, but is able to do everything else from their Ohio facility.
Weidmann continues to be a third tier provider, supplying paper but not the copper wire or other metal parts of the transformer, and they do business all over the world.
“We’ve been growing,” Amedro said. “When we started we had 95 people, now we’re up to 160 people. We’re getting to capacity levels on our DPP machine that makes the coated papers, and we continue to expand that business, and we take pride in that for a paper company we stick strictly into the electrical paper business. We don’t jump into commodity and make brown paper for brown paper bags, for example, just to run our machines. We specialize in engineered papers that are specific to an application, so it’s really high specialty type grade. We’re growing those engineered papers which then continues to increase our volumes.”
The Papermachine at the plant runs for ten days, then is down for four days to perform maintenance. Amedro says most of their raw material comes from spruce and lodge pine trees in British Columbia. There are currently about 160 employees in Urbana, but Amedro estimates that there are over 2,500 company-wide.
“We always have a certain amount of turnover,” he said. “Skilled labor is toughest one to find right now, we’re looking for off-shift mechanics.
I think they’re looking for three operator positions as well. There’s constant turnover from retirements and people want to go to a different shift. I think it’s a great company in the fact that it’s family owned and the one thing they do is they really treat their people well, and because of that we get a lot of loyalty to the company and people are pretty happy working here.”
Anyone interested in applying to work at Weidmann Electrical Technology or who wants to know more about the company may call 937-652-1220.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304.
Safety features to help with crossing the street included in $1.8M cost.
The flashers signal to drivers to stop when someone wants to cross the street. Center splitter islands were also added to the crosswalks so someone can stop there if necessary to finish crossing safely.
The project has been a test of patience for downtown Urbana business owners. Carmazzi’s Delicatessen and Candy and Cafe Paradiso owners Pat and Patsy Thackery said the quadrant of the square where the candy store sits has been the staging area for construction crews’ equipment and supplies.
“We’ve had no parking, so yes our business is down (at Car-mazzi’s) but we are confident that as soon as everything’s done, it’ll be back to normal,” said Patsy Thackery.
But Pat Thackery said business at Cafe Paradiso, on the quadrant of the square east of Carmazzi’s has actually picked up. He said their best weekend in 13 years was when Cafe Paradiso’s corner was closed for construction.
Thackery, also a city councilman, said over the years he’s witnessed several accidents on the square.
City officials have previously said over a three-year study period there were 60 crashes.
Thackery said he’s hopeful that the improvements are a step in the right direction to keep people safe.
“We moved back here like 26, 27 years ago, and this is the biggest project I’ve seen,” he said. “I think all said and done — spring when the flowers are planted — everybody is gonna be proud of this circle.”
Over at Oxner’s General Store, cashier Charma Brown said the completion of the project wrapped up just in time. Downtown Urbana’s Holiday Open House is happening this weekend, where stores and restaurants will be open with extended hours for customers.
She said pedestrian safety comes first and foremost, and she’s already noticed drivers slowing down and being more aware of people crossing the streets.
“I just think if people will be patient, work together and embrace it — the roundabout is going to be a fantastic change for Urbana,” Brown said.
Funding for the project comes from an Ohio Department of Transportation Safety Grant, an ODOT Small Cities Grant, an ODOT Urban Resurfacing Grant and funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission for water main replacements.
Water mains downtown were also improved.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the roundabout will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday at Legacy Park.
Contact this reporter at Jenna.Lawson@coxinc.com
The News-Sun has walked readers through the phases of the Urbana roundabout reconstruction since the project began in May. Urbana will have a ribbon cutting on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
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“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.
“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.”
The Cobblestone Hotel is starting to take shape. Concrete was poured early Friday morning, and on Sunday, the framing crew started. Floor joists are coming this Thursday. The goal is to have this totally framed by Thanksgiving.
The three-story, 54-room hotel is being built at intersection of 68 & 55 on the south end of Urbana. The project is expected to be completed by May of 2020.
Click here to learn more about the project and what it will mean for Champaign County!
“(The developer) has indicated to us if they’re able to secure that grant, then they can move forward toward a closing to this project,” said Doug Crabill, Urbana’s community development manager.
Crabill, as well as Marcia Bailey, director of Champaign County Economic Development, have been working with Flaherty & Collins Properties, a developer based in Indianapolis that has expressed interest in the project, to secure the funding for “Legacy Place.”
The project would convert the Douglas Hotel, as well as the former North and South Elementary Schools in Urbana, into affordable senior apartments.
Click here to read full article on SpringfieldNewsSun.com.