The Albion manufacturer recently acquired Aerol, a California company specializing in engineering and equipment solutions for the defense and aerospace industries.
Caster Concepts will move Aerol’s Southern California operations to Albion. The transition is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The purchase will allow Caster Concepts to expand its work in aviation and government contracting. Although the acquisitions won’t bring many new jobs to the area, the company does plan to hire a few more manufacturing personnel.
“Companies that grow healthy are sustainable businesses, and certainly this is a real effort to make sure that the jobs that we have here that support the community and the surrounding area are sustainable,” Dobbins said.
The addition of Aerol expands Caster Concepts to 10 brands. The acquisition will be overseen by Andrew Dobbins, the general manager of the company, who has managed previous acquisitions.
Aerol is a 76-year old company with a reputation as a leading global material handling manufacturer. Caster Concepts hopes to build on its high standing in the industry.
Having a growth mindset is important for Bill Dobbins, even amid the pandemic.
“We’ve decided we’re going to play offense, and we’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “From a leadership standpoint, you know what’s going on isn’t going to last forever.”
Ultimately, Dobbins said the acquisition will make it possible for the company to invest more in local projects.
“As we invest in our company and improve its overall health, it allows us to do the other things that we think are important in the community,” he said.
Caster Concepts has a philanthropic arm, Caster Cares, which funds education projects, marketing support for small businesses and community service projects in Albion.
Dobbins has also worked closely with city leaders on the Big Albion Plan, which is a $19 million transformational investment project comprised of 18 buildings, 29 commercial units and 73 residential units along Superior Street between Cass Street and Erie Street.
Apart from the Big Albion Plan, Dobbins has funded several downtown development projects, including the Foundry Bakehouse and Deli, the Peabody Apartments and Brick Street Lofts. The lofts, which began construction this spring, are slated to be finished sometime before the end of the year.
Harry Bonner, an activist in Albion who works for local revitalization, said he was glad to hear that Caster Concepts was expanding and hoped the acquisition would demonstrate to other companies that it is possible to sustain and grow a business in Albion.
“Any type of infrastructure or job growth is good for the city,” he said.
Bonner also praised the civic engagement of Dobbins and his family and their commitment to economic development in Albion.
“A vision is only as good as the people who will make things happen,” he said. “Transformation is happening…I’m looking for people to join his vision and become part of a team.”
Dobbins, a lifelong resident of Albion and a graduate of Albion college, said he feels a responsibility to give back to the community.
“I’m a strong believer of conscious capitalism, and the importance of capitalism and giving back to local nonprofits or to our community in a variety of different ways,” Dobbins said. “The more you pull back from it all, these things are intertwined and interconnected…We’re all in in our business. We’re all in on how we impact the community.”