Urschel Family Turns Over Ownership to Employees

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Urschel's massive new Chesterton operations opened in the second half of 2015. Urschel's massive new Chesterton operations opened in the second half of 2015.

A well-known northwest Indiana company that has been in the same family for five generations is now owned by its 400 employees. Chesterton-based Urschel Laboratories Inc. Chief Executive Officer Rick Urschel says the decision is nearly a year in the making.

Urschel Laboratories, which designs and manufactures food cutting technology for companies throughout the world, says Thursday's announcement was met with "hugs and high-fives" as executives announced the shift to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

The company says the decision was because of "the uncertainty of the ability or willingness of the fifth generation to run the business," which triggered the Urschel family to explore options. Rick Urschel says the move is not an "exit strategy," since the family will still be part of the company. "I'm not sure how many years my dad (Chairman Bob Urschel) has left to work, but everyone appreciates having him around. He's a great source for institutional knowledge, and I rely on his council. As for me, I love living here and couldn't think of anywhere else I'd rather work. I've grown up with a lot of these guys, and the friendships I've had over the years make coming to work and doing the best job I can an easy task."

The company was founded in 1910 and has direct sales office in Europe, Asia and South America. Urschel Laboratories was previously located in Valparaiso. In August, Urschel cut the ribbon on a more than $100 million, 350,000 square-foot headquarters in Chesterton. Last year, Valparaiso-based Family Express Inc. announced redevelopment plans for the 15-acre former Urschel property.

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