Ribbon cutting held for $7.5 million expansion
By Bert Lehman
More than 300 people attended a ribbon cutting at Marion Body Works on June 17, unveiling the $7.5 million expansion project that began 10 months ago.
Those present included local, county and state officials, as well as Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble.
Marion Body Works President and CEO Curt Ignacio provided a brief history of the company.
The business started in 1905 as a blacksmith shop. The company was bought by Bud and Betty Simpson in 1980.
“I have a strong opinion that had it not been for their courage and fortitude at that time, I believe this company would be a distant memory right now if not for that,” Ignacio said.
The business was purchased by Jim and Lynne Simpson, and Ignacio and his wife Nancy in 2003 when Bud and Betty retired.
“I’m proud to say we create jobs and payroll, and obviously pay taxes here in this area, but the really neat thing is about 60 percent of the money we bring in from invoicing comes from outside the state of Wisconsin,” Curt Ignacio said.
The company currently employs more than 270 employees.
“Hiring is a strategic focus of Marion,” Curt Ignacio said in a press release about the expansion project. “Our employees are not just workers, but one family made up of 274 smaller ones. And the workplace must reflect a home environment, a place our family members wish to be when away from home. The new headquarters and production facility are not just to help us maintain and grow our market-leading presence in the custom truck manufacturing industry, but to make Marion a market-leading employer in our community and throughout Northeast Wisconsin.”
Nancy Ignacio also addressed those in attendance.
“My mother was the rock of our family and she was the rock behind my father throughout his incredibly successful business career,” Nancy Ignacio said. “Together they took a leap of faith when they purchased Marion Body in 1980. I know my late mother Betty Simpson is smiling down and so very proud.”
She also said that Marion Body Works wouldn’t be where it is today without the leadership of co-presidents Jim Simpson and Curt Ignacio. Jim Simpson died in a car accident in 2012.
“He was passionate about Marion Body, and more importantly, the Marion Body family,” Nancy Ignacio said about Jim Simpson.
She added that the importance of family is displayed throughout the new building, including photos from the company’s picnics and celebrations, employees working within the shop, and photos of the founders of the company.
“It was important to me personally to name many of the rooms,” she said.
Ribble and Kleefisch also spoke at the ceremony.
“One thing that separates Marion [Body Works] from everybody else is the Marion story, the story of your family,” Ribble said at the ceremony. “That brand can not be co-opted by any other person in the world. It’s yours, yours alone.”
Kleefisch added, “It’s days like this we get to celebrate a true American dream story.”
The expansion of corporate headquarters included:
• 19,000 square feet.
• Project removed two smaller, outdated office facilities.
• Large inspection bay added to allow for client review and inspection prior to delivery.
• Second floor war room for project and executive planning.
• 16 private offices for executives and management.
• 52 private cubicle work stations.
• “1905” Café employee lounge.
• “Family Room” small conference room for huddle meetings.
• Board room featuring state-of-the-art technology.
• Five meeting/conference rooms.
The expansion of the production building and campus improvements included:
• 40,000 square foot metal building added on to existing production facility.
• Two 3-ton bridge cranes.
• Half of the production to be used for storage and completed work orders.
• Second half of facility for production and welding.
• Two additional loading docks added.
• Additional parking space.