Frankfort Manufacturing Company expands

Frankfort Manufacturing Company is building a 4,000 square foot expansion to accommodate for the manufacturing of feeders for automated punching head equipment. (Colin Merry/Pioneer News Network)

Frankfort Manufacturing Company is building a 4,000 square foot expansion to accommodate for the manufacturing of feeders for automated punching head equipment. (Colin Merry/Pioneer News Network)

FRANKFORT — Frankfort Manufacturing Company is expanding to increase production of parts for automated equipment.

Construction of a 50 foot by 80 foot expansion began in late May, and will add 4,000 square feet to the existing business, according to Tom Charters, general management for Frankfort Manufacturing.

“One of our main customers is into automation equipment, and we’re adding more to what we’re currently doing for them,” Charters said. “They’ve been assembling feeding equipment, but it isn’t their expertise, so we’ll be assembling the feeders and adding them to the punching head business we already do.”

Charters said a big part of the expansion is to accommodate for the production of more feeders for automated equipment. He also said the shop would move some of its existing shipping, saw and steel inventory into the new addition to free up space in the older part of the building in order to add some equipment.

Equipment to be added includes a computerized numerical control lathe and mill.

The expansion is expected to be finished by July 1.

Charters also said Frankfort Manufacturing is looking to add about five employees, and is seeking machinists and CNC program operators. However, the business is not just looking for new employees to help with the expanded business, but also to help replace retirees.

“We’re looking for right now, and for the future,” he said. “A lot of business is going from older, manual type equipment, to more modern computerized equipment.”

Charters said business is picking up, and that revenue is growing, so it is a good time to expand.

“We just found out last fall about the additional business we were going to be getting, so we had to make a pretty quick decision,” Charters said. “We’re starting with this expansion, and hoping to expand one more time in a few years.”

Frankfort Manufacturing is a privately held company started in 1953 to support cold header tooling under the name Pheoll, according to Charters. The company went bankrupt, and was eventually purchased by the current owner.

“Since he bought the company, we’ve expanded into different areas, everything from medical equipment to sporting goods to different machine components,” Charters said. “We diversified and changed the look of the business, and, like most companies, we are reinventing ourselves.”

Since then, Frankfort Manufacturing has dropped medical and sporting goods. Making parts for automated systems is one of the directions the company is heading now.

“The feeding systems we’re making now feeds fasteners into a punching head and installs fasteners into sheet metal, instead of welding them,” Charters said. “It helps for quicker assembly.”

Frankfort Manufacturing currently employs 38 people, including Charters, who started in 1986.

“We’re looking to grow and employ as many people as we can in the Benzie County area,” he said. “We’re trying to become one of the top employers in the area.”

Josh Mills, superintendent for the City of Frankfort, said the city is excited about the expansion and Frankfort Manufacturing’s continued presence.

“Frankfort Manufacturing commenced operations in 1953 at the current 1105 Main St. location, thus they have endured a strong presence as a vital business within our community supporting many families through the years,” Mills said. “Frankfort Manufacturing is committed toward investing in our social and economic well-being and we wish them continued success as they further excel as a tool and die facility providing quality machined products for numerous industries throughout the world. The past 65 years has proven to be a testament to their commitment to our amazing Frankfort-Elberta area community.”

 

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