Lewis Machine & Tool, currently based in Milan, Illinois, will be moving to a new purpose built factory and headquarters in Eldridge, Iowa. The move comes as Lewis Machine & Tool embark on fulfilling a new large scale order for the Estonian Defence Forces.
The move will see the company move to new premises 20 miles north of Milan. Construction at the new site began in November 2018, and the new facility will span 75,000 square feet and is costing $7.3 million to build. A ground breaking ceremony was held with LMT staff and community representatives in early January.
Karl Lewis, Lewis Machine & Tool’s president, told local press that “we had outgrown our facilities and by integrating into one building we’ll see some efficiencies and economies of scale.” The new factory will allow the company to consolidate three sites currently used in Milan, into one single location which will more than double its current factory size. The new factory will combine warehouse, manufacturing and office space as well as give LMT their own testing range for the first time.
Initially LMT had hoped to expand in West Davenport, Iowa, but the proposed site fell through. The new development is being built by Brandt Construction, and sees the company move 20 miles north, across the Mississippi river. LMT confirmed that Iowa had given around $1 million in state assistance to get the factory up and running and Jim Jestel, LMT’s chief operating officer, said “for us, Iowa has a better climate. The people are more receptive to the needs of business and Eldridge is still part of the Quad-Cities.”
Eldridge’s Mayor Marty O’Boyle welcomed the new company and the large production contract they were bringing to the area saying: “That’s a lot of work, no doubt about it. For a small operation, that’s a big deal. Hopefully they keep getting deals like that and can keep growing the plant.”
The Estonian contract will see LMT produce 16,000 new infantry rifles, the factory will relocate the current 128 jobs and hope to create 50 more locally. The new factory is expected to be operational in early spring.