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Published: Tuesday, 10/18/2011

IMCO Carbide’s reputation builds out of the limelight

Area firm’s sales climb amid slow economy

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Wes Riggio, right, a 20-year veteran, shows Alvin Jones, a new hire, how to test tools manufactured by IMCO Carbide Tool Inc. of Perrysburg Township. Its products are used for metal-cutting and grinding. Wes Riggio, right, a 20-year veteran, shows Alvin Jones, a new hire, how to test tools manufactured by IMCO Carbide Tool Inc. of Perrysburg Township. Its products are used for metal-cutting and grinding.
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It’s a good bet that most people in the Toledo area have never heard of IMCO Carbide Tool Inc.

Despite being in business 34 years, the Perrysburg Township company isn’t even listed in the phone book.

“We try to stay focused on our business,” IMCO President Perry Osburn said. “But our products are sold mostly through distributors and are commercially available. So typically, you’re not going to see us advertising.”

Even without the notoriety, the family-owned designer and manufacturer of mills, drill bits, burs, and routers used by machinists to cut and grind raw metal into specific parts, has been doing quite well of late.

As other companies have struggled the last three years, IMCO sales have been taking off. Its sales went from $12 million in 2007 to $16 million last year. Its work force expanded from 55 employees to 70 over that period.

“We’ve been fortunate. We cut back a little in 2008, but since 2009 we’ve been going the other way,” Mr. Osburn said.

IMCO, which sells many of its products to firms in the energy, automotive, and medical sectors, has grown through inroads it has made with aerospace firms.

Perry Osburn, president of IMCO, views a prototype under a microscope. Sales have risen from $12 million in 2007 to $16 million last year while the work force has gone from 55 to 70. ‘We’ve been fortunate,’ Mr. Osburn says. ‘We cut back a little in 2008, but since 2009 we’ve been going the other way.’ Perry Osburn, president of IMCO, views a prototype under a microscope. Sales have risen from $12 million in 2007 to $16 million last year while the work force has gone from 55 to 70. ‘We’ve been fortunate,’ Mr. Osburn says. ‘We cut back a little in 2008, but since 2009 we’ve been going the other way.’
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Since a lot of aerospace firms are West Coast-based, they were mostly out of reach for the suburban Toledo firm’s customers until three years ago, when the company tried to connect with independent sales reps and manufacturers who supply the aerospace industry. The firm then made necessary adjustments and its West Coat sales quadrupled, Mr. Osburn said. It also produced two side benefits that have helped the company.

“Aerospace is more demanding. When you learn that you can apply that level of quality to other products, your whole product line gets better,” he said. “It also pays off in that there’s now other markets outside the U.S. we can sell to.”

About 30 percent of IMCO sales already are attributed to exports to about 35 countries, but still the company sees greater sales opportunities in Europe and Asia.

IMCO began originally as a Toledo company without any type of production.

Begun in 1977 by Mr. Osburn’s father, Larry, as a wholesale firm that sold and marketed other company’s products, IMCO went into a partnership with another firm to make tools in 1980. When the elder Mr. Osburn retired in 1984, the company bought a bankrupt tool-making firm in Michigan, and moved the equipment to its factory, then in South Toledo.

In 1998, it moved to a 25,000-square-foot building in the Cedar Business Center in Perrysburg Township.

In 1998, IMCO Carbide Tool Co. moved to a 25,000-square-foot building in the Cedar Business Center in Perrysburg Township. Its products now number about 10,000. About 30 percent of its sales are exports. They go to some 35 countries. In 1998, IMCO Carbide Tool Co. moved to a 25,000-square-foot building in the Cedar Business Center in Perrysburg Township. Its products now number about 10,000. About 30 percent of its sales are exports. They go to some 35 countries.
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For nearly the last three decades, the company has been improving and expanding its line of products, which now numbers about 10,000.

Most of its mills, which are used by machine shops to cut, shape, and alter complex metal alloys into parts, take a year to design.

While the average person may not know the name IMCO, “I’m sure there’d be a lot of machine shops in Toledo that would know who we are,” the company president said.

At Holland Engineering Co. in Springfield Township, plant manager Jesse Limon said, “We use IMCO Carbide cutters. We’ve been using them the last 15 years.” His firm makes tools for the auto and medical industries.

IMCO’s profile is being raised too. In 2010, Boeing Co. turned to IMCO for help with a problem with its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“I think the work we’ve done in aerospace is just beginning,” Mr. Osburn said. “Right now, we’re just building our reputation, but I think that’s going to really grow in the next three years.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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