By Igor Studenkov
For the Bugle
Summit Industries LLC, a medical device equipment manufacturer that has been based in Chicago for 32 years, held a grand opening of its new Niles facility on Oct. 4.
The company officially completed the move a few months earlier, in May 2017. The officials told the Bugle that the new space was larger, hard more amenities and still had room to expand. The new location also put them closer to O’Hare International Airport and major expressways, and they hoped that it would allow better recruiting.
Summit Industries specializes in designing and building an medical examination equipment. In 2015, the company became a subsidiary of Madrid, Spain-based Sedecal. Manuel Martinez, the company’s president, told the Bugle that it was a simple question of acquiring a major player in their field.
“Summit is one of the major players in the diagnostic imagine in United States,” he said. “They have a very well-known niche in this part of the market. [Buying Summit] gave us an opportunity to enlarge our operation, to better serve the medium-low hospital market.”
At the time, Summit was located in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, at 2901 W. Lawrence Ave. As Don Matson, the company’s Chief Technology Officer explained to the guests attending the grand opening, there simply wasn’t room to expand, and even back when the company started, the building was starting to show its age.
“[It was] no comparison,” he reflected. “I mean, the building we were in was built in the 1920s.”
Company president M. Thomas Boone told the Bugle that they wanted more than just a bigger facility. They wanted a place that wouldn’t be too far away from their Chicago location, but closer to the airport and the highways. And he also believed that, with several other medical device manufacturing already operating in Niles and the nearby suburbs, relocating there would help recruitment.
“We believe that, as we grow, we will have more opportunities to recruit people in the suburbs as opposed to Chicago,” he said.
The company wound up moving to 7555 N. Caldwell Ave. The property was home to Jinny Beauty Supplies until it moved out in Dec. 1, 2014. Owner Eddie Jhin wound up leasing about 60 percent of the building to Summit. To help cover the costs of renovating the building to suit the new tenant’s needs, he applied for Class 6(b) Cook County property tax classification. Normally, industrial buildings are assessed at 25 percent of their market value. The incentive temporarily lowers it, setting the rate at 10 percent of its market value for 10 years, 15 percent during the 11th year and 20 percent during the 12th year. At this point, it either returns to the regular rate unless the property owner applies for a 10-year extension.
While the Cook County Assessor makes the final decision regarding the grant incentive, it must first be approved by the local municipal government. As previously reported by the Bugle, the Village of Niles Board of Trustees approved it on June 28, 2016.
Boone said that the move was completed on May 15. And, on Oct. 4, it held the official ribbon cutting. Some of the officials in attendance included Mayor Andrew Przybylo, Niles economic development coordinator Ross Klicker, Niles Chamber of Commerce and Industry officials and Barbara Nakanish, a commissioner at the Niles Planning and Zoning Board.
After a brief ribbon-cutting, the guests were split into two groups and given tours of the buildings.
The new facility includes manufacturing spaces, storage areas where the equipment is prepared for shipping, classrooms where the employees are trained and employee recreational and fitness area, as well as sales, accounting and executive offices closer to the front. As Boone told the Bugle, one practical benefit of the new building is that it had three loading gates – two more than in the previous building. And even with everything that was put in, there was enough room to add more, which fits into his plans to grow the company.
When asked about where the companies 75 employees reside, Boone said that they come from all over Chicago and its suburbs. Only one of the current employees lives in Niles.
Martinez told the Bugle that he liked the new facility.
“They have done an impressive job,” he said. “Very well set up. And the manufacturing areas very positive, well-arranged to produce in an effective way, so I’m very pleased.”
Katie Schneider, NCCI’s Executive Director, said that she believed Summit will be a valuable part of the village.
“Summit definitely brings a lot of value to Niles,” she said. “And we’re thrilled to have this space filled by a manufacturer.”
Schneider said that Summit has already reached out to her organization, and its been using local businesses as vendors. And she said she expects them to be good corporate citizens.
“They have been very open to being involved in our community,” she said.
During the tour, Przybylo talked to Martinez about doing business in Niles, suggesting that his company’s other subsidiaries would be welcome in the village. Martinez told the Bugle that he was open to the possibility.
The mayor was effusive in his praise for Summit’s new facility.
“It makes me think that it’s not so bad to be sick, because I know that Summit builds machines for diagnostic purposes,” he said. “I’m proud to have them in Niles. Their headquarters may be in Spain but their heart is Niles.”