Marion Manufacturing, which started out of a basement and grew to produce parts used worldwide, is celebrating 75 years of operation.
“For 75 years we’ve been a quiet company here … we contribute to the tax revenue to the town. I think the town’s proud to have companies like us here,” said president and owner Douglas Johnson. The firm specializes in fabricating metal parts for clients including Raytheon, the U.S. Navy, Stanley Works, and Chevrolet.
The company’s history was recognized by the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, May 20, when it chose Marion Manufacturing to host its first in-person Business After Hours event since the pandemic started.
“It was a great way to start, to celebrate their 75 years,” said chamber President Yetta Augur.
Between 30 and 50 people attended to network, eat and tour the facility.
Marion Manufacturing was also a fitting pick to mark the end of the pandemic because, as mask mandates went into effect last year, the company shifted its metal presses to create the nose pieces required for N95 masks and donated some of the metal strips to individuals stitching their own masks at home.
“I was very impressed that they had made the little piece for the nose on the mask and during COVID they had donated all those pieces that they had made,” Augur said.
Marion Manufacturing was founded in 1946 by Fred Cramer, who manufactured clock hands for IBM in the basement and garage of his family’s house on Marion Road. The business grew and diversified products there until moving in 1999 to their current 30,000-square-foot facility at 1675 Reinhard Rd.
Johnson said the company has been able to survive for 75 years because of its ability to change. Manufacturing no longer involves the dark and dirty factories people may think of and instead relies on technology and an educated workforce.
“We are all the things that manufacturing was not 50 years ago,” Johnson said.
When he gives tours, many are surprised to learn the company makes the connectors for the electrodes on electrocardiogram machines, which are used to measure the electric impulses in the heart.
“It’s something you see you just don’t think, ‘Wow, that component is made here in Cheshire, Connecticut,’” he said.
The town has also helped the company grow, providing a location near major transit routes and a skilled workforce through partnerships with Cheshire High School. Johnson aims to keep the company in the community and noted that his son, who works for the business as a tool and die journeyman, is being groomed to take over one day.
“It is exciting to see Marion beginning a new chapter with new leaders shaping the company and our community for the future,” Mary L. Cramer, a past president of the company, said in a May 17 announcement of the anniversary. “The company has a strong foundation and is building on it in a way that ensures success for employees and customers.”
Johnson joined the company in 2010 as the vice-president of operations and purchased the company from the Cramer family in 2015. He sees high-tech as the future.
“We’ve progressed over the years. You can look at our business over the years and see how the business has changed; at one point there was a lot of automotive here and now there's a lot of medical and (tele)communications,” Johnson said.
Economic Development Coordinator Jerry Sitko said the company has proven to be a “great corporate citizen” through involvement in regional and charitable organizations, including the United Way and Connecticut Community Foundation.
“When you're in business since 1946, you’re doing something right … being in business for 75 years — not many companies can say that, but I think it speaks highly of the products of Marion Manufacturing,” Sitko said.
The next Business After Hours will be held at Re-Read Books, located in the Watch Factory at 104 Elm Street, on June 3 at 5 p.m.