PERRY TWP. – Canton Drop Forge is in the midst of an $18.5 million investment that will allow the facility to produce larger parts.
The company is adding a 50,000-pound hammer at its facility on Southway Street SW. The workforce at Canton Drop Forge should increase to 220 employees, from about 150 currently, when the new machinery begins operating next year.
The new equipment is coming from Kropp Forge in Cicero, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.
For many years, Canton Drop Forge and Kropp Forge competed for customers. But in 2018, Park-Ohio Holdings, which owned Kropp Forge, acquired the local company. Last year Park-Ohio, based in Mayfield Heights east of Cleveland, decided to close the Cicero factory and combine operations with Canton Drop Forge.
It's the largest investment at the Canton Drop Forge facility in several years, said Brad Ahbe, president of the local operations.
Ahbe, who has been with Canton Drop Forge since 1988, praised the performance of company employees and cited that as a factor in placing new equipment at the local plant.
"They're doing a great job," Ahbe said, adding that theproject to add equipment has been a boost for employee morale.
Beaver Excavating is building the foundation that will support the equipment. Crews dug down 40 feet to set a new base for the machinery, and now are installing concrete. The local office for Thrasher Engineering handled design work for the project.
The 50,000-pound hammer will be the largest at Canton Drop Forge, once it's installed. Currently the company's largest hammer — of 11 operating in the factory — is 35,000 pounds.
The hammers are used to forge parts from alloy steel, which is heated up to 2,300 degrees before being placed between steel dies.
The hammers beat on the hot steel, shaping the part customers want. A steam piston lifts the upper part of the die and drives it down to the bottom part of the die, hammering out the steel shape.
After the steel is hammered into the desired shape, parts go into a trim press to clean the edges.
Products made at Canton Drop Forge go to key industries, Ahbe said.
Some of the company's biggest customers are in the aerospace industry, Ahbe said. The facility makes landing gear struts, structural parts and gears used in military and commercial aircraft.
The company also forges steel parts used in the oil and gas industry, rail cars and locomotives, missile components, off-highway machinery, and power generation equipment.
Most of the steel used by Canton Drop Forge comes from TimkenSteel's Faircrest mill, Ahbe said.
"That makes this a bigger boom for the local economy," he said of plans to add the larger hammer.
Canton Drop Forge started in 1903 at a building on 12th Street SE in Canton. During World War II, the government built the facility on Southway Street SW and brought in Canton Drop Forge to make parts for aircraft and tanks.
The company bought the facility on Southway Street SW in 1951 and continued to operate from two locations until the 1980s when the facility on 12th Street SE was closed.
Canton Drop Forge is part of the engineered products business at Park-Ohio, as was Kropp Forge. In the first quarter, Park-Ohio reported net sales of $91 million for the engineered products division, up from $90.3 million in the 2021 fourth quarter and $75.9 million in the first quarter of 2021.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Canton Drop Forge in Perry Township adding equipment, employees