(BSI), a structural tube fabricator of (among other
things) handrails, including those used in the growing o;-road equipment arena.
At this point, customers were asking about global
expansion. Would Morton open a facility in Asia or in
India? To streamline their supply chain, global OEMs
wanted their suppliers to be global too.
Morton’s leaders knew they couldn’t expand globally on their own, so they considered the acquisition
route and turned to Nelson Global Products, a company that focused on on-highway exhaust systems.
NGP purchased Morton Industries in 2011, joining
nearby Peoria Tube Forming Corp., which NGP purchased in 2010.
“[Nelson] acquired us because they wanted
to have Caterpillar in their book of business,”
Baughman said. “And they had facilities in China
The company appeared to be again positioned
to serve its customers and expand market share.
However, not long a;er came another setback: The
old BSI facility caught fire. But the company rebuilt
and expanded into a 154,000-sq.-;. building with
new equipment. “The Morton team was able to rise
from the ashes as a stronger company, with the sup-
port of Nelson Global Products and its customers,”
Baughman said. “With tremendous support from
employees, the Morton team did not miss any cus-
At this point Morton was set to become a major
tube fabricator serving global customers—when the
commodity bubble burst and demand for construc-
tion equipment took a nosedive.
“When Caterpillar sneezed, we caught a cold,”
Ultimately, the benefits of being part of an organization with locations around the world didn’t pay
o;. More than that, NGP continued its heavy focus
on the on-highway commercial vehicle market; supplying o;-highway customers just wasn’t its niche.
“Thankfully, a group [that consisted of] prior company owners recognized the value of Morton Industries,” Baughman said, adding that they stepped up
and in early 2016 brought Morton, along with Peoria
Tube, back again under local ownership.
This is how Morton Industries came to become
what it is today, an organization comprising three
legacy fabrication companies: Morton Industries,
BSI, and Peoria Tube Forming Corp., all located in
two manufacturing facilities in Morton, Ill.
It’s a far smaller organization, employing about
300, down from the 1,000-plus it employed in 2012.
But over the past year company leaders have focused inward and reorganized the business to meet
or exceed the expectations of current customers
and, ultimately, grow the customer base.
Quality personnel pull up a 3-D model for tube inspection.
A workpiece is cut on the company’s 3-D cutting laser.
Morton’s story—of being sold, enduring bankruptcy,
and sold twice again—shows just how challenging
this market is, and yet also how resilient a fabricator
can be facing those challenges.