31 January 1918 was the day Burton W. Cope signed the incorporation documents creating The Will-Burt Company in Orrville, Ohio. A company founded on hard work, integrity, creative thinking and a relentless drive to succeed.
The Will-Burt Company’s history can be traced back to 1894 when the Cope brothers opened a general repair shop. Soon after they purchased a patent for drilling equipment then grew the business to the point where they took on partner William Tschantz. ‘Will’ Tschantz and ‘Burt’ Cope began doing business as The Will-Burt Company in 1916.
Will-Burt began performing contract manufacturing work shortly after incorporation in 1918 and continues to offer these services today with state-of-the-art metal fabrication capabilities and a world-class powder-coat line.
Richard Lewin, Will-Burt’s President and COO states: “We are pleased that we have been able to build upon the legacy of our founder, Burton Cope. By investing in the latest technology and employing the best people, we are able to deliver high quality and innovative products and services to our customers.”
Alongside contract manufacturing, Will-Burt has designed, manufactured and sold many different products over the years. Coal stokers and heaters were a mainstay from the 1920s through the 1960s. These were sold throughout the United States and Canada and many are still in use to this day. Versa-Vise, a flexible home workshop vise was a part of the product line from the early 1900s until the 1990s.
The 1970s ushered in the ‘Age of Elevation’. The purchase of a local company that had been making telescoping pneumatic masts for the US Army was the beginning of Will-Burt’s climb to becoming a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sales of mobile elevation products. Will-Burt has made several acquisitions over the years in support of this business while receiving numerous patents as elevation products have become Will-Burt’s primary product range.
During the 1980s, the company transitioned from a family-owned business to a 100% employee-owned company via an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). This evolution was natural for a company that has always had an ’employees first’ philosophy made evident by the many generations of families that have been employed by the company.
Jeffrey O. Evans, Will-Burt’s CEO has been a tireless supported of the ESOP and comments: “Every leader wants to profitably grow the company he manages, but only a few are lucky enough to grow shareholder value and wealth for all employees of the organisation. It has been my honour and my privilege to do so.”
Our centennial, 2018, is the year we celebrate past accomplishments, current successes and a bright future. There are several employee and customer focused programmes scheduled throughout the year. A community event will be held on 25th August for all to come and join the celebration in Orrville, Ohio.