Machining startup to open in Knox Industrial Park
A veteran tool and die maker in Starke County and his wife are venturing out on their own with a new machine shop in the Knox Industrial Park. Wakal Machining LLC broke ground Monday on a new facility, which co-founder Bill Wakal says will fill a gap for machining services in the area.
Bill Wakal and his wife, Sherry, founded the startup, and Bill said the Knox Industrial Park is an ideal location because of the proximity to many of the company’s clients.
The Starke County Economic Development Foundation said Monday the company will create new parts and repair existing equipment and parts for local and regional clients in the manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, farming and construction industries.
“Our client base is farmers and any business that has a maintenance department,” Bill Wakal said in written remarks. “We hope to be able to serve Valparaiso, LaPorte, Walkerton, Plymouth, Culver, Winamac, and surrounding areas initially and branch out further into Northern Indiana and beyond as we grow. The nearest machining shop that can provide the service we will offer is an hour and a half away.”
The facility is slated to open in September and the company will have two employees when operations begin. The foundation said the company hopes to double its workforce next year with plans to eventually partner with the North Central Careers and Technical Education Cooperative to hire graduates of the local vocational program who complete the precision machine program at Ivy Tech Community College.
SCEDF Executive Director Lisa Dan said the company’s plans to provide career opportunities to local students and encourage them to stay in Starke County is key.
“That is so important to our county as we continue to strengthen our niche as a best-of-both worlds destination in proximity to Chicago, South Bend and Indianapolis with an affordable cost of living, unmatched natural resources, and friendly and welcoming communities,” Dan said.
Bill Wakal said he and his wife hope the launch of their business opens the door for other small businesses to consider locating in Starke County.
Financial details of the company’s investment in the new facility were not disclosed.