Three-quarters of a century ago, the Wiegel family came to Ellis Island with just a dream and $10,000 in their pockets. On the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 6, 1941), Otto and Kathe Wiegel took a gamble and invested all their money into that dream — founding their own tool and die shop, today known as Wiegel Tool Works, Inc. (WTW).
Two and a half decades later, while serving as a Naval Officer in the Vietnam War, Otto and Kathe’s son Martin received a message that his father was gravely ill and he needed to return home to take over the family business. Martin carried on the legacy his father started by embracing and maintaining the integrity and vision WTW had established. Martin expanded capabilities by adding a metal stamping division, which today is WTW’s core line of business. He also relocated the company to the current headquarters in Wood Dale, IL, and made multiple expansions to accommodate rapid business growth.
Today, WTW is owned and operated by the third generation of Wiegels: Aaron, Erica, and Ryan Wiegel. “People have had to sell the companies they admired and loved because none of their children wanted to go into the family business,” said Martin Wiegel. “I was one of the fortunate few to be blessed with all of my children wanting to be involved.”
Most companies cannot withstand a multi-generation family succession. However, WTW continues to thrive. Vince Azzano, a supplier who has partnered with WTW for more than 30 years and has witnessed multiple generations of Wiegel leadership, stated, “When I think of Wiegel Tool, ‘world class’ are the two words that come to mind, and I don’t throw that around lightly – from their tooling and engineering on through manufacturing, quality, customer service and support, and sales.”
Since the third generation assumed business leadership in 2010, WTW has expanded into four facilities, made significant investments into technology and equipment, reinvigorated an internship and apprenticeship program, grown staff from 39 employees to 180, and grown sales from $16 million to $46 million.
WTW celebrated a historical milestone this December — 75 years in business. WTW held an open house at the plant followed by a formal banquet. Over four hundred guests were in attendance, including customers, suppliers, employees and their families, and industry friends, such as Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) President Bill Gaskin and Technology and Manufacturing Association of Illinois (TMA) President Steve Rauschenberger.
Looking towards the future, current WTW President, Aaron Wiegel, predicts, “Based on new project quotes in the pipeline, I have no doubt that we will break the $50 million barrier and the 200-employee mark in 2017. I also envision establishing an international presence sooner rather than later.”
The Wiegel family are firm believers that manufacturing is a key to economic success for the United States, and they are confident in executing another 75 years of metal stamping success.