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C.A. Lawton Forms Venture with Machine Shop

Jan. 9, 2013
Separate operations, ownership, management Opportunity for future investments Improves ability to meet increasing demand for machined components

The C.A. Lawton Co. (Calco) has formed a joint venture with a nearby machine shop, aiming to co-market their capabilities to their separate customer groups – and to plan and invest together in new projects and capabilities. Both companies are located in northeastern Wisconsin.

The announcement of the venture was made in late December. The equity arrangement between the two companies was not detailed, but in its statement describing the project Calco said it would “increase the customer base and market reach for both companies.”

“This is not a wholly owned subsidiary or ‘plant 2’ for Calco, but a partnership with a distinct operation and its own identity, ownership structure, management, and so on,” according to Alex Lawton, CEO of the foundry. “We’ll sell together, invest together, and over time look for opportunities to make both sides stronger.”

Lawton explained that the relationship between the foundry and the machine shop would allow current owners and managers at Centerline to continue directing day-to-day operations. The “limited” overlap in capabilities creates an opportunity for future investments in new machines to increase capacity and flexibility, Calco continued, allowing the shops to manage workloads jointly and capitalize on new opportunities.

C.A. Lawton Co. is a gray and ductile iron foundry in DePere, WI, that produces large-dimension castings and machined components for domestic OEMs in the HVAC, municipal pump and valve, mining, and power generation industries. Last November, it announced a two-phase expansion project. “The partnership with Centerline improves Calco’s ability to meet an increasing demand for machined components in markets including mining, oil-and-gas, and agriculture,” the foundry announced in December.

“We are very excited to be joining forces with Centerline,” according to the CEO. “One of Calco’s strategic objectives is to increase the number of machined components we provide. This will enhance our ability to increase production in our foundry.”

Centerline Machining & Grinding LLC is a machining and fabrication shop, with CNC horizontal and vertical machining, horizontal boring mills, lathes, OD and surface grinding, and CNC laser cutting and press brakes. Centerline lists packaging, converting, and machine-building industries as its top markets.

“It fits nicely between our own onsite shop and our key external sourcing partners. As we continually increase the percentage of castings that we sell machined versus raw, Centerline will play a critical role in that growth,” added CEO Lawton.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)