Champaign company buys Fisher firm, changes name

Champaign company buys Fisher firm, changes name

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-based HL Precision Machining has acquired Design & Manufacturing Inc. in Fisher.

Going forward, the company will be known as HL Precision Manufacturing and will operate manufacturing facilities in both communities, said company President Steve Hillard.

HL has hired 17 employees at the 36,000-square-foot facility at 302 W. Division St., Fisher.

The company already employs 48 at its facility at 2110 Round Barn Road, C, giving it a total of 65 employees.

HL President Steve Hillard said the acquisition will allow HL "to continue to serve an expanded customer base with an even broader set of precision manufacturing solutions."

Design & Manufacturing has high-end precision grinding capabilities, electrical discharge machining and a painting operation that HL doesn't have, Hillard said.

The purchase from Design & Manufacturing owners Brian and Carole Hendricks was consummated Monday.

"Brian Hendricks and I began this discussion about a year ago, and it became more serious discussion this past spring, which eventually led to the acquisition," Hillard said.

Design & Manufacturing was incorporated in 1976 with a staff of six. It initially had success in the automated-film handling business.

But when the movie-theater industry underwent a downturn in 1999, the company became a diversified vendor. It offered manufacturing services ranging from design to machining, fabrication, finishing and power coating.

In 2007, the company — then owned by Ballantyne of Omaha — was sold to Hendricks, its general manager.

HL provides close-tolerance precision parts, components and assemblies for a variety of industries, including aerospace, defense/military, energy, agri-business, life sciences, food and beverage, plastics, medical diagnostics and analytical instruments.

"We've had pretty strong growth in late 2012 and early 2013," Hillard said. "We've continued to grow many of the same segments ... with particularly strong growth in automated retail — the automated kiosks in shopping malls and outside various retail chains."

Hillard said HL makes parts for many of those machines.

"We haven't seen the military segment slow down quite yet, but I'm concerned that it may get softer the next 12 months," he added.

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