GALION — “I’m very excited to be here to celebrate 75 years in Galion, Ohio. It’s about longevity. Longevity is defined as long duration continuance. That’s what we have, from longterm vendors, longterm customers, and longterm employees,” said Ned Rieke, president and CEO of Urban Industries, Inc.
Urban Industries celebrated its 75 anniversary June 17 at their King Avenue plant in Galion. Rieke and his father Ed Rieke addressed guests and employees at the event. After hearing from Rieke how the company has grown and evolved, the visitors were also able to see the plant facilities.
Urban Industries produces building systems for residential and commercial construction. They also offer bulk polypropylene bags for dry goods, room enclosures, and patio covers.
Joe Urban was a Swiss immigrant who migrated to the US in 1946 as a commercial photographer.
“But he wanted to do something else. It was the end of WWII, and he figured the best way to make roots was by making and selling mobile homes and accessories,” Rieke said. “He quickly found out that he could make more money with the accessories. He started Swiss Village just east of town [St. Rt. 309] and then quickly added a plant on Riblet Street and even a plant out in Azuza, California.”
In 1949 Urban built a new factory to manufacture Urban Awnings, and he expanded several times. By 1957, Urban Industries employed over 60 people locally.
Following Urban’s death in 1963, the company struggled on until 1976 when Ed Rieke, brother Bill Rieke, and their cousin Jerry Rieke bought the company. In 1976, with only six employees and limited sales, the need for a new vision was apparent. By 1981, Ed Rieke was the sole owner and son Ned Rieke said the business began to thrive.
In 1998 Urban Industries began stamping and fabricating parts for the appliance and transportation industries. In 2001, Ned Rieke, Ed Rieke’s, joined his father to help lead Urban Industries. In 2017 he was installed as president and CEO by the board of directors.
Under Ed Rieke, the company began to laminate panels for the sun room industries.
“And we haven’t looked back,” Ned Rieke said. “At one point we were the biggest manufacturer of record for one of the biggest patio enclosure companies in the United States. We also had a bulk pack division in the early 1990s.”
A tornado hit Galion in 2017, destroying Urban Industries main offices and damaging half of an additional building. All of their employees turned out to clean up. Many customers and vendors offered help as well.
In the last two years they added the SIPS Division. SIPs are structural insulated panels that can be used throughout the construction industry from roofs, floors, to entire structures.
Rieke said their success wouldn’t be possible without all of the good relationships they have built with vendors, customers and employees. He said their goal is to form long-lasting relationships.
“A company really is nothing without customers, but the same could be said of employees. A company is only as good as its people,” Rieke said. He thanked current employees and former employees that attended.
“I’ll put dittos on the importance of employees. Without the employees that stuck with us through the years, we wouldn’t be here. I want to personally thank everybody—the one-year employees and the 42-year employee. Thank you very much,” said Ed Rieke, naming several employees.
State Representative Riordon McClain presented a proclamation and said, “The speech today was spot-on. Life is so much about people and the impact we make with what we do with our lives. To make it 75 years as a business means that you’ve had quality people, you value quality people,” he said. “On behalf of the State House, I want to provide a commendation for the great accomplishment of 75 years.”