Photos by John Coffman Photography.
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles about local manufacturing and global impact.
The Hall Company is a local, family-owned business with humble roots that now exports products to Israel, Japan, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Australia, Germany, France and Canada. President Kyle Hall said that since the fiscal year began in July his company has been trending at 29% international sales, which he said means the Hall Company will probably make more international sales in 2020 than in any year previously.
“Our largest trading partner is in Israel, so we do a lot of business with GE Healthcare in Israel, but they build stuff in different places, so we make these large sensors, and our sensors go on their call-meters they use for scanning. So we’re selling stuff that goes to their division that does gamma cameras,” Hall said. “They build a lot of them in the Netherlands.
We have a couple customers in the Netherlands, but most of the business in the Netherlands, they actually buy panels from us, so we’ll negotiate a contract with GE for the year… and some of them they ship directly to Haifa in Israel. Some of us they will tell us to ship to another company in Israel, and then some of them they’ll ship to the Netherlands. And those people who produce these call meters will attach our part and then they ship the entire thing. That’ll all GE Israel, but it still goes to different places.“
Hall explained that as an industrial printer, the company works in about five different segments including medical, aviation, industrial equipment and consumer products, most of which remain in the United States. But the percentage of international sales has been growing, particularly as Hall builds a relationship with General Electric, which has divisions in Israel, China, Japan and is growing and buying new companies all the time, according to Hall.
“Most of what we’re doing overseas is actually medical,” he said. “There are occasions where we sell aviation and some other things, because we have customers all over the place, but from a volume standpoint it’s really mostly medical, and that drives our business. Sixty percent of our business is medical in any given year. Probably 10 percent plus is aviation, we have another 10 percent that is probably industrial automation. A percentage of it is consumer products, and then we do stuff for scientific and testing equipment, anything you can think of. If you think about it, everything needs a switch, a sensor, an overlay, a nameplate or a label telling you what it is. Everything out there has something on it.”
According to the company website, The Hall Company has been providing world-class solutions to customers in the sensor, printed electronics and identification product markets globally since 1961. William D. Hall Sr., who was an aeronautical engineer by trade, founded The Hall Company in his basement in Urbana initially to serve the aerospace industry. The company’s initial product offerings included metal nameplates, foil labels, printed lenses and metal control panels. The Hall Company supported the budding space program by providing printed lenses and nameplates to the Gemini and Apollo space missions. As the company grew its engineering and production capabilities, it started producing graphical overlays and printed circuit boards.
“In the 1970s plastics hit the market, and that changed everything,” said Kyle Hall. “We started doing a lot of plastic printed overlays … Then in the late ’70s printed electronics hit the market and become one of our biggest businesses. We got one of the first patents in the United States for a membrane switch. It took off and became our largest volume business, and it still is today.
“We think we exported our first part in 1993, and that went to Hong Kong,” he added. “When my father (James) was around they did a lot in Germany, a lot in Japan, but our sales were at a lower level. They’re higher now, so back then it was probably a lower percentage of total sales.
Over the last several years it’s just really taken off, and it’s been by a couple customers.”
Hall said that today his company exports switches and high-tech sensors to companies all over the world, but particularly to General Electric, as well as an American corporation that does its manufacturing in Mexico.
“That customer moved their production from the United States to Mexico, so that’s not great for the American economy, but we were able to hold onto it, so it’s good from that standpoint,” Hall said. “We’re still exporting that … we’ve been doing business with GE for 40-something years and now pretty much when they need a switch like this anywhere in the world they just contact us.”
Hall said they began doing business with the Israeli Ministry of Defense around 2008, but had previously worked with a smaller company in Israel that now works with General Electric.
Kyle Hall is the third generation of his family to take on the role of company president, following his father James’s passing in 2008, and said he has seen the technology change even in his 11 years at the helm.
“We’ve looked more to digital,” he said. “We’ve gone from membrane switches to looking for a lot of capacitive technology - more of whole builds instead of just selling a switch or a circuit. We’re doing a lot more valueadded assembly. We’re looking at growing our current customer base and how we can really concentrate on expanding with them, and that’s going to lead to some new international things.
We anticipate our international business to double over the next five years, based on what our customers are doing, which would be very good for us.”
Hall is currently a member of the Champaign Economic Partnership’s board and says he tries to support them as much as he can.
“I think it’s a good entity for the county from an economic development standpoint,” he said.
“I think it works well. When the city was doing one thing and the county was doing another thing it was kind of all over the place, it was complex. So I think now that everyone’s pooled resources it makes sense.”
His company is also a member of the Dayton Development Corporation and Hall served on their board several years ago. The DDC hosted a seminar to introduce local businesses to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and to give them information about quoting and bidding services.
Hall said he was unable to attend the seminar due to a quality audit scheduled for the same day, but he did travel to Dayton to have lunch with Israeli representatives the next day.
“It was kind of just a meet and greet to see how we could partner,” Hall said. “I think they’re looking for whole pieces of equipment like cars and tanks and things like that, whereas we just make components.
But we got some ideas for how we can look at it, and we are registering with the IMOD to see if we could quote something at all, because there could be something we do that could be a replacement part or something of that nature.”
Last year, 21 percent of Hall’s international sales went directly to Israel.
Another 44 percent of sales went to the Netherlands, but Hall explained that most of those products will end up in Israel.
While Hall creates both tier one and tier two components, the company they work with in the Netherlands is a total second tier provider.
Hall said he has traveled overseas when it is necessary, but because GE is based in America it is often more convenient to have GE representatives visit Urbana. He said that GE moved a lot of their medical business to China a few years ago and no longer builds anything at their corporate offices in Milwaukee.
“Our international business is based off of long-standing relationships with companies that are just doing stuff overseas,” Hall said. “We do have smaller companies that will reach out to us, they’ll find us on the web and stuff like that, but it’s really more driven by GE and ComEd and Siemens and people like that.”
Despite Hall’s international ambitions, the company still hires a largely local workforce, has maintained a head count of about 35 employees at their local plant, and currently has open positions they are looking to fill. In this way, Hall hopes to strengthen the economy both for entry-level manufacturing specialists seeking a job, and for the country as a whole.
“The best way to fix an economy, whether it’s broken or just to improve it, is to make something here, send it overseas, and bring those dollars back here,” Hall said.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304
Students are preparing for the second annual Champaign County Design Challenge formed by CEP, local manufacturers, OHP and UU to celebrate October as National Manufacturing Month.
The 5 Champaign County schools have developed teams to compete at their school district competition this Wednesday and the winning team from each school district advances to the county-level competition held at Urbana University on November 1. During the event, students are also able to participate in a tradeshow with local manufacturers.
Contracted by the city of Urbana, R.B. Jergens Contractors Inc. is working toward completion of the improvements to the Monument Square roundabout at the intersection of U.S. routes 36 and 68. Completion is anticipated on or before Nov. 6. The final tasks of resurfacing and striping are weather dependent.
In addition to safety improvements to the existing roundabout, a large portion of the project involved the replacement of aged and deteriorating water mains within the project area that dated back to 1923.
The final project cost will exceed $1.8 million, with the water main replacement portion exceeding $600,000.
The water main replacement work is funded by a 0% interest loan and a grant through the Ohio Public Works Commission. The roundabout safety improvements and final resurfacing total approximately $1.2 million, with federal Small Cities, Safety, and Urban Resurfacing funds through the Ohio Department of Transportation paying approximately $950,000 of these costs.
The fifth phase of the project has closed Miami Street between Monument Square and Walnut Street since Sept. 23. This section of roadway is scheduled to reopen on or before Nov. 6.
The Miami Street closure was planned to be the shortest closure of the project, but a week of closure is being added to assist the contractor in the final resurfacing work on the project. This closure will be equal in duration to the previous closures for the other legs of the project. Local and state route detours will remain posted.
The sixth and final phase of the project involves the final resurfacing of the project area, including the milling of the existing pavement surface, resurfacing and striping. Weather permitting, the contractor plans to mill the existing pavement surface on two consecutive evenings during the nighttime hours beginning Sunday, Oct. 27. Due to forecasted overnight temperatures during the week of Oct. 27, the paving work has been scheduled to occur during daytime hours versus the overnight paving schedule originally planned.
On-street parking restrictions will be posted within work areas during the milling and resurfacing work, and vehicles parked in violation will be towed. During some phases of paving work, thru-traffic may be restricted. In addition, flaggers will be used by the contractor to maintain traffic.
Businesses will remain open during this final construction phase, and city officials ask that residents and visitors patronize downtown businesses. On-street parking within the project area will be affected during the paving work, but nearby parking lots and on-street parking outside the project area will remain available.
For timely updates due to weather delays during the pavement resurfacing portion of the project, check the city’s website (urbanaohio. com) and Facebook page.
Champaign County Arts Council will be hosting a Handmade Market on November 1st from 10AM - 2PM. The items will include handcrafted art, gifts & baked goods from several local vendors.
Story submitted to Urbana Daily Citizen
Timed to coincide with November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month observance, lung screenings will be available 8 a.m.-noon Nov. 2 and 30 at Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital, 904 Scioto St. Call 937-328-8100 to schedule a lung screening and for more information. Walk-ins will be welcome based on availability.
People who smoke or have a history of smoking may benefit from an annual lung cancer screening, according to a Mercy Health news release. Using a CT scan, a radiologist can detect lung nodules that may be cancerous. Detecting lung cancer early can provide better health outcomes for patients. Those interested are advised to talk to their physicians about lung cancer screening.
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Abandoned Knights of Pythias Lodge part of 2019 Urban Loft Tour
Story & photos submitted to Urbana Daily Citizen
On October 14, 1894, Urbana’s Knights of Pythias Lodge turned off their gaslights and locked the door of their former Castle (Lodge) room on the third floor of 112 North Main St. The room was never used again for 125 years and is a true time warp. The gaslight is still there, the ornate wallpaper is hanging, the high Victorian woodwork, and the fraternal murals remain in place. And now you can see this lost world on the 2019 Urban Loft Tour to be held on Saturday, November 2 in downtown Urbana.
The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) is hosting its fifth annual Urban Loft Tour on November 2 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The tour will have seven stops and features the upper floors of many downtown buildings in Urbana. The Urban Loft Tour illustrates the possibilities and potential for restoring downtown lofts and the benefits of urban living in Urbana.
In addition to the former Knights of Pythias Hall, this year’s tour will feature three finished loft spaces that are now the home to downtown dwellers. It will also feature one large building that is about to undergo restoration into a full two story family home on the second and third floors that once housed the Urbana Masonic Lodge from 1883 until 1916. Plus visitors will be able to see the continued progress on the Gloria Theater and the NX-23 Rail Car.
“We are excited to continue to show the potential of our loft spaces here in Urbana,” said CCPA Trustee Sandy Gonzalez. “Our loft tours have convinced at least six building owners to renovate their upstairs spaces and make the downtown more vibrant.” At the moment there are about 14 new loft spaces being created in Urbana.
The 2019 Urban Loft Tour will require climbing many stairs and is not handicap accessible. Tour goers are asked to bring flashlights and wear warm clothing.
Presale tickets are available for $12 and will be redeemed for tour booklets only at the Gloria Theater on the day of the tour. Tickets are available at most Urbana Bank locations, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, and on-line at www.ccpapreserveohio. org.
Click here to read full article on Urbana Daily Citizen.
It is time to clean out your medicine cabinets as part of a regular routine. Disposal of your unused or expired prescription medications helps prevent medicine misuse. Youth in our county report that they have high levels of access to prescription medications in their homes and the homes of relatives. Take 2 minutes for prevention, by disposing of these medications and properly securing them in your home.
Join us for a medication disposal event at Kroger in Urbana on Saturday, October 26th from 10am - 2pm. As a community service, Mary Rutan Hospital will also dispose of used/unused syringes at no charge. Drive thru service is available. No inhalers or liquids will be accepted.
If you are unable to attend this event, you can dispose year round at one of five local permanent medication disposal (drug drop-boxes) located at the St. Paris Municipal building (police department); Mechanicsburg Police Department, Urbana Municipal Building (main entrance), Champaign County Sheriff's Office, or at Mercy Hospital near the ER entrance.
Prevention works. Everyone has a role in keeping our community safe and healthy. Add this event to your calendar now and we will see you there!
For more information regarding this event please contact Champaign County Drug Free Youth Coalition & Opiate Task Force and Mary Rutan Hospital.
Buckeye Bash – An Indoor Tailgate Party
– Oct. 26 vs. Wisconsin (time to be announced)
– Nov. 30 vs. Michigan, at noon
Admission for both games is free. Concessions will be available, including brats, burgers, beer, soft drinks, popcorn, candy and pizza.
America’s Prince & Princess State Pageant
Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Children and youth, up to 18 years. Entry forms and more information may be obtained by email, AmericasPrinceandPrincess@gmail.com.
Tickets, at $5, can be purchased at the door.
Urban Loft Tour
Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Presented by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance
Premiere of Scott Kirby’s ‘Main Street, Champaign County’
Nov. 7, 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Presented by the Champaign County Arts Council and Champaign County Historical Society.
‘Songs of the Season’ Youth Choir Concerts
Dec. 12 and 13, 7 p.m., featuring Champaign County youth choirs singing favorite Christmas carols. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
Phil Dirt & the Dozers Christmas Spectacular
Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Advance discounted tickets can be purchased online at GloriaTheatre.org
Reserved seating $30/General Seating $25
Piatt Brothers built them, Cole brothers buy one
Staff report from Urbana Daily Citizen
Ryan and Jason Cole of West Liberty were the winning bidders for Piatt Castles’ Mac-O-Chee for the price of $510,000 plus closing costs due by Nov. 22.
The sale was held Saturday after a Piatt descendant, Margaret Piatt, opted to sell Mac-O-Chee in order to raise the resources to continue owning companion castle Mac-A-Cheek.
According to the sale’s auctioneer, Tim Lile, the Cole brothers intend to keep Mac-O-Chee available to the public in some capacity.
“In the interests of that objective, the Coles spent an additional $30,000 purchasing the bulk of the antique furnishings and collectibles sold in the live and online auctions,” said Lile.
One of the Cole brothers told Lile, “We figured if it was in the castle before the sale, we wanted it to remain there for the future.”
Lile said the Coles had to outlast bidders from California, Kansas, Virginia and Ohio. The final back bidder at $505,000 was another local business owner.
“The question of ‘how much will it bring’ always comes up when initially planning for an auction,” Lile said. “This is never an easy question and the uniqueness of this property made it especially difficult to predict value. We were truly in the mode of ‘value discovery’ on auction day. When asked, I told them I couldn’t be certain, but felt comfortable suggesting an anticipated range between $400,000 and $600,000. Fortunately, for the Piatt family, we landed in the upper end of that spectrum.”
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