Dayton, Ohio

After over a century, this manufacturer of specialized production equipment has expanded its operations through acquisition, offering customers everything from custom manufacturing equipment to the production of specialty parts.

Any company that has been in business for over 100 years is doing something right. Vulcan Tool Company of Dayton, Ohio, started in 1916 as a small tool and die shop. Today, under the guidance of owner and president Ashley Webb, the company continues to thrive and expand. In addition to custom tool and die work, Vulcan makes custom equipment for manufacturers and offers equipment repair and parts production.

As the company says on its website, “We solve problems for customers.”

Vulcan’s specialty is making equipment for trimming stamped parts and cutting and trimming tubes. Automotive manufacturers, appliance makers, medical equipment companies, and many other manufacturers rely on Vulcan equipment to produce clean, cost-efficient parts. Their manufacturing equipment is ideal for high-volume, low-mix production.


From Machine Shop to Machine Maker

Vulcan Tool Company is one of the oldest manufacturers in the Dayton area and is a founding member of the Dayton Regional Manufacturing Association, which was formed in 1934. Vulcan expanded operations during the First World War and weathered the Great Depression to rebound during World War II. Later in the 1940s, Vulcan purchased Dayton Tool and Engineering, including the Brehm shimmy tool and die cutter, which is still being sold today.

Webb acquired Vulcan Took Company through Paradigm Industrial, a company he purchased in 2013. Webb is a retired lieutenant colonel with a long military history, starting with a degree from West Point and including tours in Bosnia and Iraq. When he retired, he campaigned for County Commission and discovered that, despite the loss of a General Motors plant, manufacturing continued to be a robust part of the Dayton economy, so he acquired Paradigm. 

“When I bought Paradigm Industrial, the closest, the most relevant work experience I had was as a maintenance officer in a tank battalion for a year,” Webb said.

In 2019, Webb was approached by the owners of Vulcan Tool to buy the company. Today, Paradigm Industrial LLC is doing business as Vulcan Tool Company, operating from the same building Vulcan has owned since 1945.


Offering A Better Cutting Tool

Since the acquisition, Vulcan Tool Company has continued to expand. The company still specializes in Brehm shimmy die trim tooling, delivering precision equipment that can punch out parts, leaving virtually no burr, which saves additional machining. Vulcan is also known for its high-speed tube-cutting machines that produce burr-free cuts.

“When Vulcan approached me, I was interested in acquiring their assets and the building since I was looking for a larger facility,” Webb said. “We already had a machine repair facility in Dayton, and we had acquired a precision machine shop. We’d also acquired a small fabrication shop. Vulcan Tool provided something we never had before – a product to sell with the shimmy trim die and tube-cutting machines.” 

Vulcan’s tube-cutting equipment is used by companies creating parts for shock absorbers, washing machines, radiators, aerospace, and other applications. What makes Vulcan tube cutting machines popular is the quality of the cut. Unlike other machines that use a saw, Vulcan tube cutters use stationary and movable dies that shear the material. The result is a clean cut with no burr marks, often eliminating the need for added machining. It also saves on materials, which matters in high-volume production.

“If you take a 30-foot piece of tube and take an eighth or sixteenth of an inch every of material every time you separate the next part, that adds up,” Webb explains. “When you shear it, you end up with more product from the same amount of material.”

In addition to tube-cutting tools, Vulcan continues to offer precision die equipment. Brehm shimmy dies can be created for any application, stamping out parts with a cleaned sheared edge leaving 100% material thickness at the trimline and no burrs.

Vulcan’s engineering team can design production equipment to produce any part, either by working from drawings or samples. And the machines stand up to constant use. Webb said they had just received a tube machine for repair and rebuilding that had been in service for 40 years.

The company remains true to its roots, offering custom fabrication and machine repairs. They often get requests for gearbox, pump, and cylinder repair. Webb said he recently saw a 14-foot snowplow used to clear runways in the shop. The company also offers contract manufacturing for smaller production runs, typically a few thousand pieces.

Vulcan often encounters requests to solve unusual customer problems. For example, one customer needed 100 cards to hold automotive components. The engineering team was able to design a suitable cart, so the company couple put the project out to bid using Vulcan’s plans. Vulcan plans to bid on the contract themselves.

Training the Next Generation

Vulcan has another competitive advantage in its experienced staff. When Webb purchased Paradigm Industrial, he added CNC equipment but had trouble finding qualified operators. “I knew there was a problem when we were 20 hours into that first four-hour job,” Webb said. Acquiring another local company that programmed CNC lathes and grinders helped solve the problem by adding experienced machinists, including the general manager who had apprenticed at Vulcan.

Since then, eight of the ten original Paradigm employees and most of the legacy employees from the acquired companies have retired. Webb is investing time and energy in attracting younger machinists, including sponsoring a local Explorer Post to replace his aging workforce.

Once a month, Vulcan hosts Explorer scouts from ages 14 to 17 to learn about manufacturing and get hands-on experience in machining, welding, machine repair, and engineering. The program gives young people an idea of what it takes to learn a skilled trade, and it trains the next generation of Vulcan employees. Webb says that one of the Explorer scouts recently graduated high school and has joined the company full-time.

Vulcan’s commitment to being open to new solutions for customers keeps it growing. The company has a breadth of expertise and an experienced team that brings a broader perspective and helps customers find better solutions. Vulcan’s commitment to quality and innovation promises to keep the company growing for another hundred years.