A1 Tool Corp. of Melrose Park, Ill., is ramping up a facility in Milwaukee dedicated to mold repair.
The company bought the 24,000-square-foot building in June and scheduled an open house and soft opening for Jan. 14. The actual opening, once the target staff of about a dozen workers is hired, will probably come in early February, owner and CEO Geoff Luther said Jan. 9 in a phone interview.
Luther hopes to fully staff the new sister business, tentatively called A1 Tool Solutions, to 30-35 employees in the next year or two. The company paid $1.5 million for the building but has invested at least twice that much in the startup so far.
"We saw a need to target more repair work," he said. "It interrupts workflow, trying to do repair work while trying to work on new molds." Shifting repair work to a dedicated shop will improve efficiency, he added.
A1's site in Melrose Park, a Chicago suburb, is about 85 miles from Milwaukee. The Illinois location houses two facilities totaling about 87,000 square feet and employs 60.
In explaining why A1 chose Milwaukee for the new plant, Luther — who hails from Baraboo, Wis. — said A1 has customers in the Milwaukee area and would like to "re-establish relationships with people we may have known in the past."
Milwaukee is also home to Triangle Tool Corp., which has history with A1.
Geoff Luther's father, Roy Luther, began working at Triangle in the late 1960s, eventually buying the company in 1981. Geoff learned the trade there. As he tells it, Triangle outperformed and eventually bought the struggling A1 in 1993. Geoff Luther was sent to turn A1 around, and succeeded. Roy Luther sold Triangle about 1½ years ago. The elder Luther died in September.