Leading its Field with Service and Innovation

Contract Industrial Tooling
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Contract Industrial Tooling is celebrating thirty years of offering top-notch design, manufacturing, alteration and repair of cabs, canopies, lift gates, shipping containers and racks and medical therapy tables. The company is a leader, serving some of the most sophisticated manufacturing clients in the world.
Contract Industrial Tooling’s history of excellence originated when the company was formed in 1987 by Kim Wuertemberger, who serves as the company’s president. It began as a modest two-man tooling operation in a small space in Dayton, Ohio and specialized in light contract manufacturing.

“They did business in the tooling industry, and Kim decided that he needed to spend more time working and less time driving because he lived here in Richmond, Indiana. So he moved the business to Richmond and started doing a little more work in machinery,” said Mike Owens, vice president of sales and marketing.

“Our real growth started when he decided, around 1995, to bring on a partner, and the partner came in and had some contacts in the automotive industry regarding returnable parts containers, once he started with the company he started helping expand into the returnable market which was our first foray into larger production type items.”

Contract Industrial Tooling expanded into making custom steel shipping racks and containers used by the automotive industry for transporting parts such as doors and windshields. Over time, proven performance through consistent quality enabled it to prove its worth and grow as it increased its range of products.

“The next foray we made was in the cab enclosure market for forklifts. We hired some engineers, and we hired a program manager that had been working in that industry for quite some time, and we were able to secure Toyota Industrial as our first cab customer,” Owens said. From there, Contact Industrial Tooling acquired clients such as Mitsubishi/Caterpillar, Case and more.

Contract Industrial Tooling has been recognized by Toyota Material Handling with an Excellence in Supply Chain award. It has also received other accolades from the area chamber of commerce acknowledging the impact that it has had on the community.

The company specializes in solutions for the material handling, construction, industrial and utility sectors. It continues to change, adding new products that have led it to develop a growing presence in industries that use hydraulic lift gates and medical therapy tables.

“Around 2010, we were contacted about potentially doing some business in the medical therapy table field, believe it or not, which was something that was totally outside of what we had done.”

“We were able to win an initial three-year contract with a company called DonJoy out of Vista, California producing their line of medical therapy tables, and we’ve done three new contracts since.”

Contract Industrial Tooling is ISO 9001:2008 certified and working toward 2015 certification as well as ISO 13485 certification for the medical field. The company is also looking towards FDA registration by the end of the year to bolster its ability to deliver first-rate products.

“We really like to partner with our customers in the early part of a new program. For example, we love to have them come in, or we love to go to their place and sit down and really talk about what their goals are with the new product, what their timing is and what they’re trying to accomplish by this,” said Owens.

“We sit down with potential new programs and not only review what the product is that someone may want us to design and/or build, but we look at the process that it is going to take to build that product.” Its can-do attitude means that the company will go to great lengths to get the job done.

“We start with what we know we’ve got, but we are not afraid to go out and purchase additional equipment, make our own pieces of equipment, whatever it takes from an innovation standpoint to make that a more efficient and cost-effective product.”

Contract Industrial Tooling has a ten-person design and engineering team who work closely with the clients’ engineering group at every step. “We do all of our designs in house. We don’t outsource those to anyone. We also do virtually all of our own prototyping in house and don’t outsource any of that. “

“It’s just a win all the way around if we can get involved early in the process,” Owens said. “Our largest customer, which is our lift gate customer, launched a new product line the first part of this year, and they got us involved before they started the design process internally.” By letting CIT help, our customer was able to launch the product much faster than if they had tried to do it on their own.

The company has invested considerably in its facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and technology and large areas dedicated to medical therapy table assembly and shipping racks as well as two cab assembly areas.

To ensure operational efficiency, Contract Industrial Tooling invests time, effort and resources into training its employees with regard to quality and safety. “That’s something relatively new for us. It used to be that it was the supervisors’ responsibility to train new employees as they came in,” said Owens. Giving employees opportunities for advancement and continuous improvement results in both improved customer satisfaction and company growth.

“We have things like weld training that each one of our welders can go through if they want to, and they can move up different levels within the American Welding Standards certification, and with each one of those level increases, they also get pay increases.”

Each day, meetings take place on the shop floor to discuss safety standards and job expectations, and this provides an excellent opportunity for open communication and the sharing of ideas.

“We review things like safety, production, wins and losses on a particular job, identifying best practices that we came up with or where mistakes were made and how to correct them and then expectations. During those meetings there is also a portion where we ask for any feedback, for any new ideas, any improvements that we can make,” noted Owens.

Contract Industrial Tooling is looking to advance in the aerospace sector, having had early success in this area.

“We currently do business with Rolls-Royce, and we design and build engine containers for their turbine engines for helicopters and so forth. That’s an area we’ve done a little more with each year,” said Owens. “We’re trying to take that knowledge and what we’ve done so far with Rolls Royce, and we’re trying to expand into that industry further.”

Another area of future activity for Contract Industrial Tooling will be automated equipment. To add to the extensive equipment and capabilities it already has, there is an increased focus on designing and building its own robotic welders.

“It’s hard to find welders that are at a level to do true production welding, so it’s getting more and more difficult every single day. That being the case it has pushed us further along into robotics,” explained Owens.

Contract Industrial Tooling has ten robotic welders and two flat-bed lasers but looks to add to that. By designing and introducing new methods of tooling for its robotic welders, the company will reduce its reliance on manual welding, while improving consistency and accuracy.

Contract Industrial Tooling is investing in a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that it anticipates will be installed by the end of the year. This has taken quite some time but will have a great impact on its operations.

“We are so excited to have a new ERP system in place. We’re also ready for the challenges of implementation,” Owens said proudly. ”We know that it is going to be quite painful for a period of time, but the reward out the other side will be great.”

In exciting news, Contract Industrial Tooling proudly introduced its Concept Cab of the Future 2.0 at CONEXPO 2017. Requiring no complicated installation, the ‘plug and play’ cab was designed based on customer and operator feedback. It boasts complete 360-degree visibility that allows an operator to be fully aware of surroundings, the ability to be tilted up to twenty degrees, easier servicing and an escape hatch.



Storm in a Teacup

Read Our Current Issue


Food for Thought

June 2024

A Living Underwater Laboratory

May 2024

Achieving Equity Through Sustainability

April 2024

More Past Editions

Cover Story

Featured Articles