Midland Metal Products, a Chicago manufacturer founded 95 years ago, has taken over the former Lear seat factory on 165th Street in Hammond.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott said the company, which makes metal fixtures for the retail, gaming, agricultural, telecommunications, furniture, lighting and architecture sectors, was relocating its manufacturing operations from Illinois.

The company long had been based in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood by the south branch of the Chicago River.

"Midland Metal Products moved to Hammond due to better business climate and convenient location," Hammond Director of Economic Development Anne Anderson said. "They have around 135 employees. We will work with them on any hiring needs they have."

The company has posted a number of job openings in Hammond on hiring websites, including for an assistant buyer for purchasing, a timekeeper, a metal fabrication supervisor training and spot welding machine set-up/supervisor apprentice.

Midland Metal is investing about $7 million in the 112,000-square-foot factory at 1401 165th St., where Lear had made seats for the Ford Explorer and other vehicles from 1994 until earlier this year, when it moved to a new $30 million, 240,000-square-foot facility in Hammond just south of the East Chicago South Shore Line station.

"It's good the space was taken over so quickly," McDermott said. "You don't want to see industrial properties sitting vacant, and they moved in almost right away."

Anderson said Midland Metal Products had plans to expand the existing building by 15,000 square feet.

The metal fabrication company uses lasers, CNC, 3D CAD/CAM, advanced machine-tool technology and robotics to make a variety of products, such as retail point-of-sale display stands for gift cards, nutrition bars, cereal. and pop. It handles everything from conceptual design, engineering and prototyping to production, assembly and packing.

Its shop uses a number of production techniques, including laser cutting, turret punching, metal forming, wire forming, tube fabricating, welding and powder coating.
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