Chesterton Maker Achieves 100-Year Recognition


About 465 employees work at the Chesterton manufacturing plant for Urschel, a company that manufactures machines and parts for cutting and slicing food. The employees have stock option plans that make them the owners of the century-old company. SUPPLIED / photo

A century is a milestone and Chesterton-based manufacturer Urschel received an award for achieving this achievement. Governor Eric Holcomb awarded 101 Indiana businesses and organizations, including Urschel, the Governor’s Century or Half Century Business Award in recognition of the longevity and service each business has provided to its employees, the community and the State. The award has been awarded for 30 years, honoring more than 1,160 Indiana companies.

“We are proud to be one of other Indiana companies recognized by Governor Holcomb for achieving Half-Century and Century Awards status. Our employees are dedicated and hardworking Hoosiers and we owe our success to them. Our surrounding communities make it easy for us to attract and retain the best talent. We are excited to see what the next 100 years will bring, ”said Rick Urschel, President and CEO of Urschel.

Urschel, a global manufacturer of food cutting machines and slicers, began operations in Porter County in 1910, established in Valparaiso by William E. Urschel. As explained on the company’s history webpage, it was the invention of the Gooseberry Snipper, a machine that removed stems and flowers from the then popular berry, that began the 100-year journey. The company moved its operations to Chesterton in 2015, to a brand new facility at Coffee Creek Center.

Left: Checkouts are ready from the Urschel Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton.  The company was established in Valparaiso in 1910 and moved to Chesterton in 2015 and now serves clients globally.  Right: Equipment manufactured for the catering industry is tested in Urschel's laboratory before being shipped.  Five new cutting machines were developed in 2021. SUPPLIED / photos

Left: Checkouts are ready from the Urschel Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton. The company was established in Valparaiso in 1910 and moved to Chesterton in 2015 and now serves clients globally. Right: Equipment manufactured for the catering industry is tested in Urschel’s laboratory before being shipped. Five new cutting machines were developed in 2021. SUPPLIED / photos

“Urschel’s longevity depends on many factors,” said Debra Novello, advertising manager for the company.

“Food processing is an indispensable industry to feed our ever-growing population around the world, so being a big part of this industry has been key. “

Novello said that throughout Urschel’s history, management has carefully reviewed expansions and focused on investing in new manufacturing methods.

“We honestly attribute our success to our workforce,” said Novello. “Hiring the right people for the right jobs leads to strong contribution and decision making. “

Urschel employs 600 people worldwide. The majority, 465, work in US facilities and 135 work overseas. The average length of service in the company is 18 years.

“With a few exceptions, all of the manufacturing takes place in the United States,” Novello said.

After four generations of Urschel family management, in 2016 the company switched to an employee share ownership plan (ESOP), which means that employees acquire stock options in the company as a advantage for employment. Employee-led committees help develop future business goals. Rick Urschel and Bob Urschel, Chairman of the Board, continue to represent the family in the corporate structure.

“[With the ESOP], all employees are rewarded by the continued success of the company, ”said Novello. “Making future decisions that greatly benefit the business also benefits every employee. “

To be eligible for governor recognition, a business must meet certain criteria. In addition to hitting the 100-year mark of continuous operation, the company must also do the same work it did when it was founded. Community service is also an important consideration, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which compiles the nominations and nominations for the award.

“Urschel is heavily involved in our local community,” said Novello. “Northwest Indiana is home to our employees and their families.

The company is involved in the community in a number of ways, including funding, participating in local boards, and investing and supporting local projects.

The company continues to move forward, Novello said. Three expansions were added to the original building built in 2015 to accommodate the growth. New technologies are added to the manufacturing process. The company also added five new machines to the market as well as numerous cutting parts.

“The accomplishments of our manufacturing and engineering teams have been truly incredible,” said Novello.

Urschel was one of many Indiana companies honored in June for their longevity. It was the only Porter County company honored this year for reaching the 100-year mark. Honored for reaching the half-century mark were Baptist Children’s Home (66) in Valparaiso; Boy-Conn Printers (58 years old), Valparaiso; Dari-Dip (53 years old), Portage; Samuelson Insurance Agency (95), Portage; and Sanders Indiana Hardware (70), Valparaiso.

“I am honored to recognize these dedicated business leaders and Hoosier who have created a lasting impact not only on their communities but on the state as a whole,” said Holcomb. “As we continue to attract new jobs and investment to Indiana, these well-established businesses will set the tone for a Hoosier economy dedicated to hard work, constant improvement and strong community roots. I have no doubts that these companies will continue to provide excellent service for the next 100 years and will keep Indiana on course for success for centuries to come.


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