Modernized Modern Forge Starts Again

Century-old forger is back home again in Indiana after a three-year relocation and reconditioning effort.

It’s been three years since ModernForgeCompanies LLC decided to relocate its press forging operation from Blue Island, IL, where it had operated for nearly a century, to a converted location in Merrillville, IN. Now, Modern Forge Indiana has started operating, and the company recently hosted an open-house event at the new site for employees, retirees, and their families.

In 2011, the company’s owner but owner Greg Heim explained that Indiana’s “common sense approach to business” presented a better opportunity than the “poor business environment in Illinois,” citing worker’s compensation regulations and taxes as examples. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered performance-based tax credits and worker training grants, the city of Merrillville approved property-tax abatement for the new operation, and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority offered other incentives.

The group reportedly invested over $35 million in the 260,000-sq.ft. Indiana plant, which it now sees as a foundation for further expansion. "We get rewarded for it every day in lower product movement costs, lower energy costs and lower maintenance costs," Patrick Thompson told The Times in Northwest Indiana. "It's improved almost every aspect of our business."

The Merrillville plant includes eight press lines, engineering offices, a die shop, and business offices. As a custom forging operation, its products include structural parts (side frames, fender struts) for motorcycles, locomotives, aircraft, agriculture and off-road vehicles, and military vehicles. Lately, energy markets have emerged as a new growth opportunity for Modern Forge.

Much of the Blue Island plant equipment was relocated to the new site, but new foundations were installed and some new work cells were established, too. A new heat-treating operation will be in place by Q1 2015.

In addition to Modern Forge Indiana, the ModernForgeCompanies organization founded in 1914 now includes forging operations in Tennessee and Texas, too, and contract machining shops in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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