The Springfield News-Sun recently reported about a roughly $1 million expansion at New Method Packaging, a company that started in the city in 1982.
Here are a few other companies in the Springfield area that make products you might not expect:
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Potato chips: Rue Farms
About five years ago, Jeanne and Matt Rue were frying batches of chips in a deep fryer from their Clark County farm and selling them at local farmer’s markets and festivals.
Now, Rue Farms Rustic Potato Chips are sold across at least seven states in the Midwest at national chains including Kroger, Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. The couple has since sold their farm and now live in a recreational vehicle parked beside their new warehouse, where they host a series of outdoor bluegrass concerts throughout the summer.
Pizza boxes: New Method Packaging
The company started when founder Neil Miller lost a job and started making disposable pizza circles for local restaurants from his home.
The business has slowly grown since, and earlier this year it announced plans for a $1 million expansion to provide about 15,000 square feet of additional space that will allow New Method to store products for additional customers as it continues to grow.
The company, located at 1805 Commerce Road, now produces boxes for regional chains like Cassano’s Pizza and Marion’s Piazza.
Plastic containers: Tech II
A Springfield company that produces plastic containers for the food industry now produces more of its materials in-house, allowing it to be more competitive and react more quickly to its customers’ needs.
Tech II Inc., founded and owned by the Shiffer family, produces millions of plastic lids, bowls and other products each year that eventually end up on grocery shelves.
Anatomically correct chocolates: Visual Anatomy
It’s not really manufacturing, but last year the News-Sun got a chance to tour Visual Anatomy Chocolates. Tina Pavlatos started her company, Visual Anatomy, around 2001 as a freelance business that sold medical illustrations to physicians, medical text books and attorneys arguing personal injury cases.
But nearly all of her business now comes from small, homemade chocolates shaped like anatomically correct lungs, brains, kidneys and other organs.
Pavlatos started making the chocolates in her home in 2005 and shipping them as a gift for clients who bought the illustrations. She studied art and anatomy in college in Cleveland, providing skills that allowed her to draw up designs for anatomically correct molds for chocolate body parts. The business doesn’t have a storefront and only sells the chocolates online.
Chocolates currently on sale at the business’ website include a Great Expectations set that comes with a chocolate heart, brain and uterus. A four-piece “Gettin’ Old” set comes with a chocolate knee, brain, hip and eye.
Konecranes, a large employer in Clark County, specializes in the manufacture and service of cranes and lifting equipment. The company provides cranes and other products that are used in shipyards, ports and the automotive and steel industries, among others.
The company’s regional headquarters is based in Springfield, and much of the training the company provides to its employees is offered here. Worldwide, the company has approximately 17,000 employees at 600 locations in 50 countries according to information on its website.
Baking equipment: Bundy Baking Solutions
In Urbana, Bundy Baking Solutions has been a family owned company since its founding by Russell T. and Elizabeth Bundy in 1967, according to information from the Champaign Economic Partnership.
The company makes commercial and industrial baking pans and other products and has a long history in the baking equipment industry. The company includes American Pan, and Chicago Metallic, among other entities. According to its website, the company’s Urbana office also includes a three-level museum that helps preserve and collect decades of history in the baking industry.