Unit Forgings was started in 1918, during the era of the Model T, trolley cars and the beginning of prohibition, at our current location at 1903 S. 62nd Street in West Allis, Wisconsin.
It began as the John Obenberger Forge Company, which was acquired shortly after its inception by the Unit Corporation of America (hence the “Unit” name). Interestingly, William Ford, the younger brother of American industrialist Henry Ford, has a connection with the Company. In 1925, William Ford entered the construction equipment business with the formation of the Wilford Shovel Company in Detroit. In 1927, that company changed its name to Universal Power Shovel Company, with William Ford as its president. In 1928, shortly before the Great Depression, Universal Power Shovel Company was acquired by Unit Corporation of America.
Unit Corporation of America also acquired the Fuller and Sons Manufacturing Co., a producer of industrial truck transmissions used in heavy-duty on/off highway equipment, and truck and trailer axles. Fuller and Sons would play a major role in the life of Unit Forgings in later years.
Early in 1932, following the Great Depression, Unit Corporation of America fell victim to the ravages of the Depression and, like so many companies during this bleak period in U.S. history, was forced into receivership. This resulted in a major reorganization of the Company into three separate entities within Unit Corporation of America. They were the Fuller Transmission Company (currently a division of Eaton Corporation), Unit Forgings, and the Universal Power Shovel Company.
In 1937, reorganization occurred when the Unit Corporation of America divested itself of the Universal Power Shovel Company (later named Unit Crane) and changed its name to the Fuller Manufacturing Company, of which Unit Forgings became a division.
As a division of Fuller Manufacturing, Unit Forgings existed much differently than it does today. At its peak, the old Unit Forgings operated 15 steam hammers ranging in size from 1,500 to 10,000 lbs., including an open frame hammer. Today, we operate 9 closed-die steam hammers ranging in size from 4,000 to 18,000 lbs.
Unit Forgings continued its relationship with Fuller Manufacturing until 1958, when Eaton Manufacturing Co. acquired Fuller Manufacturing. Unit Forgings remained a division of Fuller, which became a subsidiary of Eaton. In 1960, Unit Forgings became the Forge Division – Milwaukee Plant of Eaton Corporation, and remained such until December 1978.
During 1978, after 20 years, Eaton decided to divest the Milwaukee plant. On January 1, 1979, Unit Forgings was formed under new, private ownership. A testament to the stability of the new Company, the surviving original members of the 1979 ownership group remain in place today, and the entire ownership group has been unchanged since 1994.
Unit Forgings acquired the railroad product line and related equipment from the defunct Pittsburgh Forge in 1992, and relocated a number of experienced employees to Wisconsin to ensure continuity in quality and productivity. Although many of these employees have since retired, a few of the original Pittsburgh Forge transplants are still actively at work today.
In the mid 1990’s, Unit Forgings began to expand its capabilities by developing an integrated CNC machining department and a production welded assembly operation. These capabilities allow Unit Forgings to provide complete, value-added, assembly line-ready components to its ever-expanding list of satisfied customers.
Today, Unit Forgings continues to invest heavily in state-of-the-art engineering systems, capital equipment, and organizational training & development. We are committed to enhancing our position as the premier world-class manufacturer of high-quality closed-die forgings.