6 International Companies Making Things in the Westside

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.

Published January 18, 2016 in Neighborhoods - MetroJacksonville.com

1. ADCOM Wire Company

Coils of wire are delivered to Adcom by rail and unloaded by crane. Here, the Knoxville Locomotive Works 20B picks up four empty gondolas from Adcom. Courtesy of Henry Dell (Elchlok) at Flicr.com

In 1883, Joseph P. Leggett developed the first successful spiral steel coil bed-spring. That same year, he formed a partnership with Cornelius B. Platt, a blacksmith, in Carthage, MO. In 1901, the partnership incorporated under the name "Leggett & Platt Spring Bed & Manufacturing Company." Today, Leggett & Platt (L&P) operates 130 manufacturing facilities in 18 countries and is the leading U.S. producer of drawn steel wire.

The Westside's ADCOM Wire Company is a member of L&P's Drawn Wire Division. ADCOM's 8-acre manufacturing plant recieves coils of wire by rail and uses the material to make products such as display racks, closet shelves, and springs for the bedding industry. In an effort to become more environmental friendly, the company obtained Eco Initiative registration in January 2014. Waste products being recycled at ADCOM today include paper, plastic, cardboard, cigarette butt waste, zinc, lead, and scrap wire. ADCOM employs around 120 workers and is located at 925 North Lane Avenue.

2. Canam Steel Corporation

The Canam Group is the largest fabricator of steel components in North America. The corporation's manufacturing division operates 22 plants in Canada and the United States producing customized construction products, broken down in to three major groups: building construction, structural steel construction, and bridge construction.

Canam produces United Steel Deck products in South Plainfield, NJ; Peru, IL; and in Jacksonville at 140 Ellis Road. Specifically, the Ellis Road plant makes steel bars and joists that are used in the construction of buildings ranging from sports arenas to apartment buildings. Here, 240 employees work rotate shifts at the 206,000 square foot operation, which can be characterized as a large tent-like structure where steel goes from one end to the other in assembly-line fashion. Prior to Canam's 1995 acquisition, the 60,000 ton capacity plant was a satellite facility of Pennsylvania-based Dura-Bond Steel Corporation. Dura-Bond provided corrosion protection services for manufacturers of steel products.

Two coil railroad cars and a gondola at Canam Steel's Westside plant. Courtesy of Henry Dell (Elchlok) at

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.

4. Coastal Films of Florida

Founded in 1979 as Sigma Extruding, Sigma Plastics Group is the second largest producer of plastic film and sheet in the U.S. With 36 manufacturing sites that produce industrial and commercial plastic films, Sigma is one of the largest buyers of Polyethylene (PE) resins in the world. PE is the most common plastic, with an annual global production of 80 million tonnes. Sigma's products include stretch film, institutional bags, merchandise bags, garment bags and converter-grade packaging, industrial film and bags.

In Jacksonville, the Westside's Coastal Films of Florida is a member of Sigma Plastic's Group of Companies. Built to produce 39 million pounds of product annually, Coastal Films receives PE resins by rail to produce custom sheeting, shrink bundling film, tubing, can-liners, wicket bags, and custom industrial packaging. Bags and industrial sheeting represent 45% of Coastal's product. Converter films represent the remaining 55%. The plant's fifteen lines consist of seven industrial lines (bags and sheeting) and eight converter film lines (bottling & food grade). Coastal Films of Florida is located in the Lane Distribution Center at 627 North Lane Avenue.

Here, a KLW2 2250 is sandwiched in between three hoppers and a tank car. The crew is spotting the three hoppers at Coastal Films of Florida. Courtesy of Henry Dell (Elchlok) at

5. Reichhold LLC 2

Reichhold LLC 2 is a global supplier in the composites and coatings industries. Reichhold's history of innovation began when founder Henry Reichhold emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1924 and found employment in the paint department of the Ford Motor Company. Ford's assembly line production of the Model-T was hampered by the long drying requirements of paint, lacquers, and varnishes, taking anywhere from days to weeks. This resulted in many production delays. Following a personal request from Henry Ford, Henry Reichhold customized a solution in a friend's garage using resins imported from his family's business in Europe. In 1927, Henry formed Reichhold, Inc. With 19 manufacturing sites and 5 technology centers in 12 countries, today the Durham, NC-based company is one of the world’s largest suppliers of unsaturated polyester resins for composites and a leading supplier of coating resins for a wide variety of markets and applications.

Polyester resins are used in a variety of products such as wall panels, sheet molding compound, bulk molding compound and the toner of laser printers. Wall panels fabricated from polyester resins reinforced with fiberglass — so-called fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) — are typically used in restaurants, kitchens, restrooms and other areas that require washable low-maintenance walls. The Westside's 54 Wamsley Road Westside, unsaturated polyester resin plant has been in operation since 1946. The 15 acre plant is one of Reichhold's 6 facilities in the United States.

6. Johns Manville

Jacksonville's Johns Manville plant courtesy of Google Streetview.

At the age of 21, Henry Ward Johns founded the H.W. Johns Manufacturing Company in New York City in 1858. In 1885, C.B.Manville founded the Manville Covering Company in Milwaukee, WI. The two companies merged in 1901, to form what is now known as Johns Manville.

In business for more than 150 years now, Denver-based Johns Manville manufactures high-quality building and mechanical insulation, commercial roofing, glass fibers, and nonwoven materials for commercial, industrial, and residential use. The company's products are used in an array of industries, from filtration to aerospace. With 44 manufacturing facilities across the globe, Johns Manville provides products to over 85 countries.

Johns Manville's only Florida manufacturing plant is located on a 13-acre site in the Westside of Jacksonville. Material for Roofing systems is manufactured at the Jacksonville plant. This facility is unique in that it is one of the first to convert to productuion of polyiso foam roof insulation with a non-ozone-depleting blowing agent, pentane. In addition, in 2009, the Jacksonville facility became only the second roofing industrial plant in the United States to be awarded Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star since 1984. Johns Manville Jacksonville is located at 5510 West 12th Street.

For many years, the company operated an asbestos pipe manufacturing plant in Green Cove Springs on State Road 16. This facility produced pipe used in municipal water systems. In 1983, it was sold to JM Manufacturing. It ceased operations in 2000.

Article by Kristen Pickrell and Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2016-jan-6-international-companies-making-things-in-the-westside

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