Special Focus

From 1968 to now, JL French Automotive Castings Inc. has turned from a garage business into a global entity. The vertically integrated and independently owned leading global supplier of high-pressure aluminum die cast components serves Tier 1 automobile manufacturers such as Ford, Chrysler and General Motors and Tier 2 companies including Magna, Getrag-Ford-Transmission and Nexteer. With six manufacturing facilities – two in its headquarter city, Sheboygan, Wis.; two in Glasgow, Ky.; one in Etxebarria, Spain; and a joint venture in Chongqing, China – the company employs 90 die-cast machines around the world ranging from 400 to 3,500 tons.

“We actually have 100 percent control of our manufacturing process,” says Joel Kaslewicz, national sales manager of Indux, which produces fastening solutions such as rivets, grease fittings, grommets and eyelets. Kaslewicz’s statement is a rare thing to hear these days, but given the company’s location and chosen industry, it’s a very necessary distinction to have.

Fresca Foods has changed greatly since it was founded in the early 1990s. Back then, it served retail and wholesale foodservice clients by providing packaged pasta, sauces and soups. Today, the company provides manufacturing, marketing and financial investment to second-stage natural and organic food brands.

Having pretty much invented the water softening business in 1925 with a fellow named Emmett Culligan, Lynn Lindsay’s Lindsay Co. over the years has been transformed into EcoWater Systems LLC. That long history and innovation in research and development is keeping EcoWater Systems LLC on the cutting edge of commercial and residential water softening.

Outside of food companies or  other producers of major brand-name household products, it probably isn’t common for manufacturing executives to be recognized randomly by customers for wearing a company-branded shirt. For Gerry McDonnell of DJO Global, however, the company’s products are so important to customers that a few end-users have done just that.

Twenty-five years ago, not that many people – let alone women – were starting artisan chocolate companies. But Cathy Brand-Beere, president and founder of DeBrand Fine Chocolates, took her background growing up in the confectionery equipment and supplies business and in 1987 meticulously started to build up a company in her hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., that has caught the attention of such notable celebrities as Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump.

Summer is the time of year when Americans take to the open road, and helping them enjoy an often luxurious campsite are the trailers they tow, complete with bedrooms, kitchens and even bathrooms. Specializing in five different lines of recreational vehicles (RVs) is CrossRoads RV, which manufactures fifth wheels, travel trailers and toy haulers out of four  – soon to be five – plants in Topeka, Ind., plus one in Syracuse, Ind.

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