Jeff Jeffery holds a automotive part made using IRMCO lubricants to keep the steel from breaking as it's stamped into its complex shape.
Seven manufacturing businesses on Evanston's West Side showed off their plants today to counter the idea that manufacturing is dead in the city and to encourage young people to consider industrial careers.
The tour was centered at IRMCO, a manufacturer of industrial lubricants at 2117 Greenleaf St., where CEO Jeff Jeffery, part of the fifth generation of family owners of the business, described how the firm, which started on the site nearly a century ago rendering animal carcasses, transitioned to petroleum-based lubricants and then more recently to water-based ones.
The tour drew government officials, including Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and State Rep. Robyn Gabel, who all proclaimed the importance of manufacturing jobs to the area's success and the opportunities they represent for young people -- whether they're going to college or not.
An IRMCO worker adds one of the ingredients to a fresh batch of a lubricant mixture.
Students from Evanston Township High School's Career and Technology Education Department and participants in the Youth Job Center's industrial intern program were among the young people on the tour.
A chemist in IRMCO's Research & Development Center said the company is successfully competing with some much larger firms in the industrial lubricant field.
Other businesses participating in West End Manufacturing Day were laminating machine maker Thermal Laminating at 2220 Greenleaf St., metal stamping plant Ward Manufacturing at 2230 Main St., printer Allegra Marketing, Print & Signs at 1255 Hartrey Ave., bar supplies distributor Collins Brothers at 2113 Greenleaf St. and cabinet maker Benvenuti & Stein at 2001 Greenleaf St.