In 1907, a foundry in Chicago moved production to Tiffin. Today that company looks much different than it did even 25 years ago.
But that change has kept the business thriving in tough economic times.
A year ago, Andrew Felter took over as president and chief operating officer of Webster Industries, which celebrates its 135th anniversary this year.
Felter said it has been a smooth transition thanks to the foundation set by former president Fred Spurck and the company's continued effort to expand markets it serves.
"Being diversified and getting into other industries has really allowed us to move the company forward in the last few years, both in growing our sales and profitability," Felter said.
Webster specializes in producing engineering class chain for the forestry and automotive fields, and has expanded to include agriculture, aggregate, asphalt and cement, construction, recycling and wastewater treatment fields, as well. It was a shift made during the 1980s which has led Webster to be ranked as top in its field since 2006 by the Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association.
"It was a strategic move, but a move in the right direction," said Spurck, who is now chairman and CEO.
When he took over in 1983 as president, Spurck said Webster was facing growing competition as a systems manufacturer. Instead of continuing down that path, Spurck said they decided to take one of the smaller aspects of the business - engineering class chain - and expand on it to become the company's top focus.
Dean Bogner, vice president of sales and marketing, said that focus has grown and the company now produces highest quality engineering class chain available.
Felter said Webster controls the entire manufacturing process at Webster.
"We feel like by being able to control that here within these walls, we do a better job of that than our competition does," he said. "By focusing on internal quality, we've been able to remain successful, keep moving with that particular product."
Another change at Webster came in 1986, when the former owners were looking to sell the company. Spurck said a decision was made to shift ownership to employees to form an Employee Share Ownership Plan.
"It was a win-win, and made a lot of sense at the time," Spurck said of the ESOP.
Today, management says the shift has given employees greater pride than they may have had otherwise.
"When we have customers come in to visit our plant, there is a theme that every time they walk out of there they say, 'Man, your guys are really proud of what they do.' That comes from the culture," Bogner said.
Other new faces in the management team include Nick Spurck, vice president of operations; Chris English, chief financial officer; and Steve Rhode, vice president of engineering.
"It's a bit of a new generation, but we're looking forward to taking the ball and running with it," Bogner said. "It's an exciting time for us."
And for a company founded in 1876, that excitement is just as much about what is to come, as it as a reflection of their past success.
"We are very optimistic about the future, about manufacturing, about what is in store," Felter said.