Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Ribbon-slicing, -dicing, -milling, -stripping for Urschel Labs Inc.

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The world’s leading manufacturer of precision cutting equipment for the food industry officially set up shop in Chesterton on Monday, just about three years after company officials decided they’d outgrown their old plant in Valparaiso and needed to find new digs.

Using a special edition of the company’s DiversaCut knife, President Rick Urschel of Urschel Laboratories Inc. snipped the ribbon just outside the global headquarters’ main entrance on Cutting Edge Drive. At his side, his father, Board Chair Bob Urschel.

For both, Monday’s ceremony was an opportunity to say Thank You to their employees and to the general contractor, Tonn & Blank of Michigan City.

“My family and I can’t express gratitude enough for the people involved in this project,” Bob Urschel said. “It made our lives easier.”

“I also must express my gratitude for making this process so easy,” Rick Urschel said, then recalled the promise made by one of the company’s own suppliers when it decided to re-locate a plant to a new state. “They assured us there would be no issues of quality or deliverables. There were. And I said we weren’t going to have that problem. And we haven’t had that problem. That’s a testament to a transition as smooth as could be.”

John Gilmore, president of Tonn & Blank--the contractor hired in 1956 to build Urschel Labs’ old facility in Valpo and then hired 10 more times to expand it--found the ribbon-cutting an oddly wistful moment. “I want to thank Bob and Rick Urschel for allowing us to be involved in this construction project,” Gilmore said. “I go to a lot of these ribbon cuttings and they’re such a relief, you’re glad the job is done. I’m not.”

The new plant has 40 percent more square footage than the old one. But “volumetrically” it’s fully “two and a half times larger,” Rick Urschel noted, added that the Valpo facility just kept getting “taller and taller as we ran out of room.”

Chesterton Town Council Jim Ton, R-1st, for his part expressed his delight at the Urschels’ investment in Chesterton. “Urschel’s one of the greatest companies I know of anywhere,” Ton said. “And you know it’s true. Once you’re part of the Urschel family, you stay. Because they know how to take care of people. Welcome to the Town of Chesterton. And thank you for picking Chesterton as your location.”

Redevelopment President Jeff Trout, who played a major role, along with Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, in negotiating an incentive deal, recalled how, “almost three years ago,” the idea of actually getting Urschel to re-settle in Chesterton seemed like “kind of a pipe dream.”

Although maybe not so much to Darnell. “Sharon told me, ‘Let’s go for it and give it our best shot.’”

“Our main focus was to keep Urschel in Porter County,” Trout remarked, but “with some vision we were able to successfully convince the Urschels this was the best place to locate. It’s a world-class organization, a tremendous family, and a tremendous group of people to work with.”

Urschel offers over 50 different modes of food processing equipment, including high-capacity slicers, dicers, shredders, and millers, while worldwide it develops processing solutions in the industries of fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and poultry, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other fields requiring precision size reduction equipment.

The company traces its origin to William Urschel’s design of the Gooseberry Snipper in 1910, used to remove stem and blossom ends from gooseberries.

 

 

Posted 9/1/2015

 
 
 
 

 

 

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