A drive through the area between St. Clair Avenue and Euclid Avenue harkens back to Euclid's industrial heyday in the mid-20th-century—when over 140 firms lined its industrial corridor, including Reliance Electric Co. and the Fisher Body Division of General Motors.
Though few of those companies remain today, many of their former homes have taken on new life with thriving businesses and ventures—like the former Chase Brass & Copper Co. tube mill site that now houses the Amazon fulfillment center, or the former PMX factory that now houses Bluestone Business Park. More developments are likely to follow, thanks to the designation of five opportunity zones within Euclid in 2018.
Get an inside look at three historic industrial buildings that have found a robust 2.0 version in Euclid:
Ramsey and Brandon Duqum of Aable RentsAAble Rents: Once a crane facility that produced ammunition for World War II, the AAble Rents headquarters has overcome the test of time. After taking over the company in 2012, Ramsey and Brandon Duqum purchased the building at 1365 Chardon Road in 2014 that has housed the thriving tent and special event rental business for over two decades.
At 69,000 square feet, the facility offered ample potential but also presented a number of challenges—including a leaky roof and worn panel siding. The Duqums were planning to build a new facility on the site, until CEO Ramsey Duqum had what he describes as an “a-ha moment.”
“I live in an old loft building downtown. One night, I placed my finger on the exposed brick in my apartment and had a thought,” shares Duqum. “I immediately called my business partner to meet me at work the next morning.”
AAble RentsWhen they arrived, Duqum ripped off the wall panel to reveal an exciting opportunity: Instead of rebuilding, AAble Rents would renovate. Via a three-phase rehabilitation plan, the building was designed to look similar to Duqum’s loft condo, replete with rooftop deck.
Yet the project provided more than aesthetic improvements. According to Duqum, the company is now sustainable and more efficient, supporting up to 3,400 events yearly, and employees have benefited from AAble Rents’ expansion through increased hourly wages. In 2016, seven new loading docks were added, leading to the birth of a new company called AAble Logistics for freight transportation.
As AAble Rents approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020, its home continues to evolve, thanks to the Duqums' faith in the strong bones that have supported it for many years. - Rachel Bevel
Tri-C Transportation Innovation CenterCuyahoga Community College - Transportation Innovation Center: The Transportation Innovation Center is where opportunity and expansion meet. Previously located at Heritage Business Park in Euclid, the training facility moved to 24881 Rockwell Drive in June to occupy just under 30,000 square feet of new space—including seven classrooms and an on-site state CDL (commercial drivers license) testing office.
The idea to relocate and expand Tri-C’s existing Truck Driving Academy first arose in 2015 as a way to meet growing demand for transportation services in areas of distribution and logistics. “Companies such as Amazon and Coca-Cola [were signaling] that warehouse distribution is a growing service,” says Alicia Booker, vice president of manufacturing.
Booker joined forces with Cindy Leitson, Tri-C’s vice president of capital, construction, and facilities, and a team of workforce officials to create a training environment that would equip students for current and future career opportunities—as well as take Tri-C’s transportation training to the next level. The college then acquired the current property from JRayl Transport, which is headquartered in Akron.
The move has produced massive results for the institution, with a 40% increase in student enrollment. A new program is also being offered in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority that addresses a shortage in drivers by removing barriers that discourage prospective trainees.
A diesel technology program is in the works, and succession planning is another strong focus, with program apprenticeships also coming. “Discussions are underway with Euclid High School to develop a program that will allow students to earn college credit,” says Booker. - Rachel Bevel
HGR Industrial Surplus
HGR Industrial Surplus: If a movie were made about the history of the massive industrial complex at 20001 Euclid Ave., it might be called "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." Over the last 77 years, the plant has been used to produce everything from World War II aircraft parts to bodies for General Motors cars to parts for Sea-Ray boats.
HGR Industrial SurplusSince 1998, the building has played home to HGR Industrial Surplus, which buys and sells used manufacturing machinery and industrial equipment. Over time, HGR grew from occupying 150,000 square feet to the full 500,000 square feet and eventually bought the building outright in 2014.
“When we bought the building, we made a commitment to stay in Euclid,” says CEO Brian Krueger. “Once we controlled our own destiny, our mission was to fix up the building and turn it into a kickass space with kickass offices.”
Krueger and his team decided to renovate what he calls “cookie-cutter offices that were very antiquated with drop ceilings and tiles” into a more inviting space that honored the building’s rich history. Decisions were made to retain and pressure wash the original brick rather than replacing it, along with keeping the original interior columns, wood structure, and even some of the original GM signage intact.
The renovated offices at HGR“We wanted to keep the space true to when it was built in 1943 and replicate that as best we could,” says Krueger, who took over as CEO in 2008 from Paul Betori.
The building also hosted the annual F*Sho contemporary furniture show for 10 years and has hosted numerous events and gatherings for MAGNET. Looking ahead, Krueger is hard at work on a master plan for bringing in tenants to rent out various parts of the space. He’s excited for what the future will bring for the building now known as “Nickel Plate Station,” and Krueger says Euclid is the right spot for it.
“Logistically, Euclid is close to the freeway, and an ideal place for trucking,” says Krueger. “We’ve been here for 20 years, and we’ll be here for the next 20.” - Jen Jones Donatelli
This article is part of our On the Ground - Euclid community reporting project in partnership with City of Euclid, Euclid City Schools, Tri-C, and Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Read the rest of our coverage here.