6 International Companies Making Things in the Westside

January 18, 2016 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Jacksonville is about as close to a historical manufacturing mecca as you'll find in Florida. Blessed with a location where interstate highways, railroads, and ports meet, the city has the ideal ingredients for a highly diversified mix of manufactures. Here's six international manufacturers, that you may not have known, that are heavily invested in the city's Westside.

3. Caterpillar Work Tools Inc.

Peoria, IL-based Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) traces its origins to the 1925 merger of the C.L. Best Tractor Company and Holt Manufacturing Company in San Leandro, CA. Over the past 91 years, CAT has grown to become the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. Much of CAT's growth has come through the acquisition of other companies.

CAT's Jacksonville story dates back to 1899, when E.C. Dearborn and R.W Limbaugh created the Florida Machine Works near the Riverside Viaduct along the downtown riverfront. In 1901, Franklin Glazier Russell acquired the foundry and eventually re-branded it as Florida Machine & Foundry. For decades, the foundry's 1375 West Church Street location was one of the urban core's largest employers.

On January 6, 1947, Russell's son established the Florida Land Equipment Company (FLECO) at the downtown foundry site. FLECO specialized in deforestation equipment. Its main customer was Caterpillar. In 1970, FLECO expanded with a Westside tool works operation. This site was acquired by Wamego, KS-based Balderson, Inc. in 1983. In 1990, CAT acquired Balderson, Inc. This wholly owned CAT subsidiary was re-branded as Caterpiller Work Tools, Inc. in 1998. Caterpiller Works Tools manufactures a variety of products including medium wheel loader couplers, buckets, forks, rakes, and hooks for attachment to Caterpillar Heavy Machines used in construction and mining operations around the world.

Caterpillar Work Tools, Inc. is located at 5801 Highway Avenue.

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