Rathburn Tool & Manufacturing Expanding in Auburn

August 1st, 2012

News Coverage:
KPC News
DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership

Rathburn Tool & Manufacturing Expanding in Auburn

By: Dave Kurtz, dkurtz@kpcnews.net

Wednesday, August 01, 2012, 12:20am

AUBURN — Workers at Rathburn Tool cut a ribbon Tuesday, opening an expansion that nearly doubles the size of the machine shop in south Auburn.

The company is growing into an addition of 120 by 150 feet at the rear of its building on C.R. 29, just north of the CSX railroad tracks.

Rathburn has added about 15 employees in the past 2-3 years, bringing its roster to just under 40 workers, said Rich Allen, president and partner in the company.

Two longtime employees did the honors of clipping the ceremonial ribbon with a pair of giant scissors. Operations manager Brian Cole and process engineer Ron Bryie both have worked at Rathburn Tool for more than 20 years. The two men live in Kendallville and have known each other since they went to the same third-grade classroom, they said.

“If it wasn’t for Ron and Brian … none of you would be getting a paycheck,” company founder Jerry Rathburn told his workers after the ribbon ceremony. “They’ve been here for not only the good times, but the bad times, too.”

Cole and Bryie showed some of the shop’s products to a pair of special guests — Auburn Mayor Norm Yoder and Don Grogg, president of the DeKalb County Commissioners. The men gave the visitors a look at end caps the shop makes for railroad car axles. Those products eventually end up on rail cars in India and Australia, they said.

Founder Jerry Rathburn said the company started Dec. 1, 1983, in a building on C.R. 60 that housed three employees. The business soon moved to Indiana Avenue in Auburn, where it expanded three times before building its present home on C.R. 29 in 1994.

The new addition built this year marks the first expansion of the current site. The company also added more space for parking and a new truck path.

“The reason we’re in here is because of all you people,” Allen told employees as they dined on snacks in the new addition. “Growth has been driven by our team members here. We have a very dedicated and committed group.”

Allen added, “It’s an honor that our customers put their confidence in Rathburn Tool’s machining abilities.”

In addition to the railroad axle units, Rathburn makes parts for semi trucks such as clutch components, Allen said.

The expansion will help meet growing orders from both current and new customers in the railroad, agricultural and industrial markets, he said.

Rathburn Tool plans to acquire new equipment to use in its expanded space, Allen said. He also expects to hire an additional process engineer.