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The shipping label proudly says Indiana

Angola, an inconspicuous blue-collar northeast Indiana town of 8,600 just off Interstate 69 serves as home to a surging family-owned manufacturer and distributer which is growing and moving product like never before in its seventh decade.

Vestil Manufacturing Corp. began in 1958 as a truck and rail dock equipment manufacturing subdivision of T&S Equipment. Today, it stands as an industry power of over 360 employees serving customers all over the world. Vestil set a company annual sales revenue record of $80 million in 2012 – the most telling sign of this international company’s expanding presence and impact in the industry.

Vestil moved from Michigan to Angola in 1982. At that time, the company was doing modest annual sales of $300,000. Under the direction of Chief Executive Officer Ralph Trine, the company evolved with calculated risk taking and bold development built on a small business model. Vestil’s development would follow one driving mandate: The family-owned company would grow debt free.

The groundwork for Vestil’s future was set in the 1970s when the company redefined its product strategy to include material handling equipment, specially focusing on custom-made electric hydraulic material handling equipment. Vestil’s move to Angola, a blue-collar community that traces its own roots back to 1838, propelled its growth, and the company’s product catalog expanded wildly in pages and volume.

“Do you have this?” Customers often ask when calling Vestil’s information line. The answer is almost always the company’s motto: “We’ve Got It!”

Today, Vestil’s product line counts over 5,000 items, many in stock and ready for shipment in 48 hours or less. Vestil’s product development in safety equipment, packing products, protective barriers, industrial ladders, carts and dollies, drum handling equipment and lift truck accessories allowed it to reach customers across the globe and make exponential steps forward as a company. Today, Vestil products ship from six manufacturing and warehouses in northeast Indiana. From high rise lift trucks to work platforms to pallet jacks to drum crushers to snow plow blades, Vestil has a Mernards-like product inventory. Even imported products have thin mark-ups and are produced, tested and packaged according to Vestil’s strict terms and conditions.

Competing product for product with Vestil is a game most industry competitors can’t win. “(Vestil’s) product penetration of the market” is a clear sign of the company’s progress, said VMC North American Sales Manager Rick Michael. “Quality products at a low price are the best advertisements you can have.”

Along the way, Vestil has invested heavily in its community and its people, bringing hundreds of jobs to a proud American manufacturing center. A 60,000 square foot, $8.2 million addition to the company’s Angola facilities in 2007 brought 104 new jobs to the area alone.

Angola, the county seat of Steuben County, is the proud hub of an operation that shows no signs of slowing down. With Trine passionately involved in daily activities, Vestil is eying the next frontier of its growth as a company. It won’t be changing its operating philosophy in the next chapter of this distinctively Indiana business story.

“(The company) is rooted in good old Midwestern values,” Michael said.

Clete Campbell is a freelance journalist with 16 years of daily newspaper experience.   E-mail to contact Clete.