New and Expanding Businesses
Born and raised in Hoopeston, Kristi Edwards left Hoopeston following high school to work in the travel industry. She began her career working for American Express travel in Chicago. She then went to work for Student Travel (STA) in Champaign, IL, Vancouver, BC, Las Vegas, NV, and San Diego, CA. Following several years with STA she did entertainment travel with Sea Gate in Los Angeles, CA and government travel in Fayetteville, NC. Recognizing that Hoopeston is a great place to raise her 1 1/2 year old daughter, she returned to Hoopeston one year ago.
After 100 years of business in Hoopeston, Vermillion Iron was faced with the possibility of closing its doors. In February, all employees, aside from management, were laid off. The office remained open but the foundry was not in operation. This was devastating news for the community, as Hoopeston was confronted with the possibility of losing 40 jobs. In late February and March events began to take a turn as interest in the Hoopeston foundry began to emerge. On April 19th, Vermillion Iron was sold to an investor in the Naperville area and renamed The New Vermillion Iron Works, Inc. This brought a ray of hope to the community and an excitement that this facility would be revived. Mike Pentas, Director of Operations, has previous experience revitalizing old foundries. The plans for the Hoopeston foundry are to stabilize the operation with the present customer base. The foundry has currently hired back nineteen employees and will continue to do so as long as orders continue. Future plans are to expand the operation by increasing the customer base and the number of jobs. The foundry has teamed with Packer Technologies Inc., located in Naperville, a science and engineering based company, to further expand the horizon of the New Vermillion Iron Works, Inc. This partnering compliments Mike’s abilities and the New Vermillion employees by bringing the in-depth expertise in design, computer modeling, metallurgy, laboratory testing, and quality manufacturing to the plant. It also brings considerable experience in manufacturing know how and adds an even larger dimension to the vision and future of New Vermillion Iron Works and the greater Hoopeston area. The New Vermillion Iron Works, Inc. facility represents a niche market in the foundry industry. The foundry currently makes cast iron castings (grey, ductile and wear resistant alloys) and specialty steel castings, a double opportunity providing diversification and additional markets in its manufacturing niche.
After living in large cities throughout the U.S. and Canada she chose to return to Hoopeston where everyone knows her and her family, people are friendly and greet her as she passes, she has a yard, and a large expanse of land to raise horses. All of these positive quality of life factors create an environment she desires for her daughter. While she has seen a change in Hoopeston during the 10 years she was away, she is hopeful that the Hoopeston economy will improve.
With vast experience and networks in the travel industry Kristi has decided to start her own travel business, Action Travel. She will serve Hoopeston residents from her office at 206 South Market Street and via the internet she will serve clients throughout the United States. She plans to start out small and then grow the business by hiring additional travel agents.
Action Travel is located at 206 South Market Street and is open from 8am to 3pm Monday through Friday or by appointment. Please stop by Action Travel and let Kristi plan your next vacation!
The goal is to build an attractive, efficient, and profitable short run casting producer serving the needs of the Midwest Industry. Mike Pentas, Director of Operations, plans to create a “hometown” manufacturing facility not only producing castings as a profit making enterprise, but also serving the community as a source of pride, employment, stability, opportunity, year round employment, training and education for the youth. The plan for the facility involves reinitiating production, maintaining and serving the existing client base while at the same time instituting a progressive “rolling” maintenance and replacement program for all facilities and operating equipment. While the vision and plans for the facility are great, the challenges are immense. The facility suffers from years of neglected or “jury rigged” maintenance practices, from oversight of housekeeping, resulting in a run down, unattractive, inefficient facility which now cries for good management practices in order to become a source of community pride, a clean, attractive place to work, and a contributor to the economic engine of Hoopeston. Making New Vermillion into the modern casting facility visualized is no easy or “quick fix” task. It will take the will of all employees over an extended time period to turn New Vermillion into a profitable productive manufacturer and even longer to use available funds to modernize the operations. Mike Pentas will need the help of all the employees and the City of Hoopeston to turn this vision into reality. The facility currently has installed capacity of two, six ton induction melting furnaces and two, one-ton induction melting furnaces, of which all but one six-ton furnace is operational. New Vermillion poured its first heat on Saturday, May 26th. When all four furnaces are on stream, the production capacity (estimated on a 1 shift basis) will be approximately 25 million pounds of good castings. This translates into a revenue stream of more than $50 million at present pricing. The New Vermillion Owner anticipates as many as 50 or more jobs in the near future. It is also looking at the possibilities of establishing a training program for local high school students. Young people from Hoopeston, who wish to pursue manufacturing as a career path, will benefit from the ability to augment their academics with part-time employment, workshops, training and skill based learning at the New Vermillion Iron Works facility.
Tremendous progress has already been made at New Vermillion. Nineteen of the previous employees have been hired back to work at the foundry. Significant cleanup has taken place both inside and outside. Mike Pentas welcomes community residents to visit the facility for a tour at anytime.
Dawson Logistics, a nation wide leading provider of customized supply chain logistics, has been named to the 2007 INC. Magazine 500 fastest growing private companies in America. Dawson’s Corporate office is located in Danville, IL, with it’s two other main offices in Glen Carbon, IL and McKinney, TX. Dawson has a warehousing and distribution location here in Hoopeston, IL. Dawson specializes in pharmaceutical and Industrial logistics as well as turnkey fulfillment solutions. In addition to our centrally located Hoopeston IL logistics center, the company has 11 additional strategic locations throughout the US, and a team of seasoned logistics professionals ready to assist all clients. Visit the Dawson Logistics Web Site to learn more about the company.