Ames Roars Into the 1970s
It was 1970 and Ames was now a 20-year-old venture, and beginning to explode at the seams due to plant capacity issues caused by the exponential growth seen in the Office Automation space. This kicked off a search for new facilities to increase capacity and continue to facilitate Ames’ growth. This would lead to a period of expansion and growth for more than the next two decades.
The search began in earnest for a reliable nearby location to expand into. The last industrial site available in the local area was in Wantage, NJ. 24 acres of land were purchased in 1971 and construction began immediately on a new multi-million dollar manufacturing facility, which was completed in 1972. This would be known as Plant #3, and is where Ames’ Aerospace production is housed today.
The plant was designed to handle the most sophisticated, high technology products Ames was manufacturing and had the utilities to provide clean, safe production. This facility was a showplace in which important customers were given tours, illustrating Ames’ wide capabilities. By the end of the 1970s, Plant #3 was also over capacity and a 24,000 square foot expansion, plus an expansion of the corporate offices and laboratory in Hamburg was approved and underway.
Plant #3 would expand and demonstrate Ames’ spray techniques, processes that were the forerunners of today’s technology. This technology helped push Ames to over $10M in annual sales for the first time in 1978.
This growth was caused partly by Ames’ expansion into the European market starting in 1972. Ames partnered with a local rubber company in England, and the venture blossomed, winning a large portion of the Office Automation industry in Europe as well. By 1980, Ames’ European investment was nearly 1/3 of all sales for the company.
At this time Ames began working with the European branches of many of their North American customers to provide the same quality across the globe. This helped the Office Automation industry standardize their quality and developments between their two main areas of development.
“Like today, Ames was a place where you wanted to come to work.” Production Manager Hank Dykstra remembers, “I started in 1977 and within a few years we had opened the expanded Wantage facility and bought another facility in Vernon to further expand operations.”
The late 1970s and the relationship with the company in England saw the entry into the Automotive industry. A venture that would prove to be a boon for Ames and lead to explosive growth in the next decade and lead to some of the expansion mentioned above.
In our next installment, we’ll cover the 1980s, the growth of the automotive industry, and a period of growth for Ames.