Red Bud’s Still Expanding After 50 Years of Growth
Coil processing equipment manufacturer Red Bud Industries markets products all over the world from its home in a tiny farming community near St. Louis. The forward-looking company, founded in 1959, is taking time this year to look back on its 50 years of growth and success.
Earlier this year, Red Bud executives welcomed customers and other dignitaries to an anniversary open house to unveil their expanded manufacturing plant in Red Bud, Ill. The company doubled the size of its facility to over 200,000 square feet. The additional space includes four 40-foot-tall bays with crane capabilities up to 80 tons.
“This area allows us to more efficiently produce larger ma-chines, such as 0.750-inch by 96-inch-wide cut-to-length lines and stretcher levelers,” says Dean Linders, vice president of sales and marketing.
The plant expansion included installation of an automated storage and retrieval system with 600 positions for storing raw materials. It also made room for two new Mazak machining centers added to the nine already in use. Up to 32 pallets of parts can be pre-staged, allowing the machines to run unattended at night or on weekends. The machining area is served by a second automated storage system.
“We do all of our manufacturing in house. We do not job shop anything out. We believe this is the only way we can guarantee the quality our customers expect and deserve,” Linders adds.
Red Bud was founded in 1959 when Ken Voges, just 23 years old, sold his 1955 T Bird to start his own machine shop in a small building on his parent’s farm. The company began by serving area farmers with their machining needs. Within two years, it had expanded into building tools and dies for various manufacturers, and soon produced its first coil line and shear, laying the foundation for today’s product line.
In 1971, Red Bud Industries moved to its current location, at that time a 25,000-square-foot facility, and began making machinery for cut-to-length coil processing lines. Even early on, Red Bud backed each piece of equipment with its five-year warranty, a standard for which the company is known to this day, Linders says.
In 1973, Red Bud was granted its first patent for its grip feed measuring system, which allowed for closer tolerances in the blanking process.
During the mid-1980s, Red Bud began offering toll processing services to its customers and other service centers as a method to test new machines. This venture proved to be quite successful, and in late 1992 the toll processing business was spun off into its own entity, now known as The Material Works Ltd., run by Kevin Voges, son of the company’s founder who is now retired. Kevin’s sister Kathleen and her husband Kalin Liefer run Red Bud Industries.
Other technological milestones for Red Bud over the years have included: multi-blanking lines; one of the first slitters to offer CNC programmable knife positioning; a dual action grip feed system that broke the 400 foot per minute barrier; a patented in-line stretcher leveler; a coil-to-coil slitter; and coil brushing equipment for The Material Works’ patented SCS process.
Today, Red Bud Industries boasts over 1,000 installations worldwide. Nearly half of Red Bud sales are to international customers.
Fifty years later, the company that began in a small farm building in a rural community has evolved into an industry leader known worldwide.
–By Tim Triplett, Editor-in-Chief
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