Buisness and Mancufacturing
Since its earliest days as an important supply center for the settling of the West, Atchison has enjoyed a strong commercial base. Several Atchison businesses have been around for well over 100 years.
The economic climate of the Atchison area continues to be robust, due in large part to a diverse makeup of businesses supplying many markets. No one business dominates the labor market. Only seven area businesses have more than 200 employees. Another 11 places employ 25-199 workers. Atchison County has a workforce of 8,840 people. Over 1,000 people living in surrounding areas commute to work in Atchison County.
Atchison continues to be a trade center for the rural region of northeast Kansas and part of Missouri.
In the late 1800s, Atchison emerged as an manufacturing leader in Kansas. Many industries today are still based on markets from that time – agriculture and grain processing, the railroads, leather products, and the distribution of hardware.
Shannon Industrial Park offers potential for industrial growth. It is a 250-acre tract, five miles west of town, zoned for light industry, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. Major tenants include Golden Star, Inc., and Northwest Pipe.
The city’s largest employer is Atchison Steel Casting & Machining, which traces its roots to 1872 when city fathers enticed the John Seaton Foundry & Manufacturing Company to relocate from Alton, IL, to the banks of the Missouri River in Atchison. Today the company is a subsidiary of AmeriCast Technologies, Inc.
Many local companies are involved in grain storage, milling or merchandising. The major one is MGP Ingredients, Inc., a recognized leader in the production of natural ingredients derived from wheat. It came to Atchison in 1941 as Midwest Solvents, an alcohol distillery. Today, the company has fully-integrated processing facilities in Atchison and Pekin, Illinois, and a protein and starch mixing plant in Kansas City, Kansas. Innovative research in wheat protein and wheat starch chemistry is ongoing. Through extensive research in protein and starch chemistry, MGP continues to expand the depth and scope of its business. MGP scientists focus their expertise on developing highly functional ingredients that provide substantial benefits and advantages to customers and ultimately to the consumer. The company plans to build a $2 million office/research development complex in the city’s newly-revitalized riverfront area.
Other companies in the grain industry include Bunge Milling, Blair Milling, Cargill Ag Horizons, AGP Grain Marketing, AnaCon, and Farmer Direct Foods, Inc.
Bunge Milling, the leading corn dry miller in the world, operates one of its four plants in the Atchison area. It provides high quality bulk and packaged value-added ingredients and food products to the world’s food processors, food service, bakery industries and feed manufacturers. It is Bunge’s commitment to innovation and its collaborative partnerships with the food and beverage manufacturers of America’s favorite brands that are hallmarks of its success.
Blair Milling has been managed by five generations of the same family since 1867, when the Blair brothers built a flour mill at the foot of the Missouri River bridge. Today, it operates an
elevator and offers a complete source for animal nutrition needs, focusing on quality livestock feed and customer service.
AnaCon Foods manufactures an extensive line of flavor particulate products, such as Bits-O-Flavor and Wheat Germ Nuts, used by food processors as extenders or replacements for neutral fruit and nut pieces and for sweet flavor bits.
AGP Grain Marketing, a farmer-owned cooperative formed in 1983, operates two elevators in Atchison.
Farmer Direct Foods, Inc., is a marketing cooperative of producer/members in four states dedicated to bringing quality ingredients to the consumer.
Golden Star, Inc., a global leader in the manufacture of textile cleaning products operates the industry’s largest and most advanced manufacturing facility in Atchison. From spinning mop yarn to manufacturing a broad range of mops, to tufting carpet and manufacturing specialty matting products, the company had consolidated its U.S. manufacturing processes in a 350,000-square-foot plant in Shannon Industrial Park. Founded in 1908, with an international headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, Golden Star has a sale and distribution presence in over 30 countries.
The Blish-Mize Company, founded in 1871, is one of the nation’s oldest wholesalers and distributors of hardware and building materials. It is managed by the fourth and fifth generations of the Mize family. With a state-of-the-art 350,000-square-foot distribution center in Atchison and a smaller distribution center in Denver, CO, the company delivers over 48,000 products to about 1,200 retailers in a 13-state region. It also provides retail profitability programs that include extensive market research and solutions for product assortment, pricing, advertising, and personnel development geared for business growth and profitability.
Fargo Assembly of PA, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of electrical components, system designs, and electro-mechanical assemblies for the motorcycle, lawn and garden, and heavy duty trucks.
Northwest Pipe is a leading manufacturer of welder steel pipe and tube plus Flame-Out™ sprinkler pipe.
Unit Rail Anchor has been manufacturing railroad anchors in Atchison since 1974. The company’s executive and sales offices were moved from a Chicago suburb to Atchison in 1992.
The Berger Company has roots back to 1908. It is a major supplier of leather and textile products to large manufacturers throughout the world.
Atchison Products is a supplier of sportbags, luggage, tote bags and briefcases to the corporate promotions market throughout the U.S.
We-Mac Manufacturing, founded in Atchison in 1962, produces a full line of small and large tank systems shipped all over the world. It can quickly produce specialty tanks and equipment.
The Steinlite Corporation has been manufacturing dielectric (capacitance) type grain moisture meters since 1931, when Fred Stein invented the technology here in Atchison.
Atchison’s well-established, century-old industries are being joined by technology-driven industries. Two such industries are Oceanic Medical Products Inc., a designer, manufacturer and distributor of medical devices with markets in North and South America; and First Flight, an Italian airplane parts distributor.
The City of Atchison continues to reinvigorate its downtown commercial core to encourage additional retail development and to extend its breadth east to the Missouri River. Revitalization has included design guidelines to encourage preservation of historical architecture. A program providing loans for façade improvements generated $350,000 in projects. A $1 million streetscape improvement project enhanced the appearance of downtown with new sidewalks, landscaping, period lighting, and street banners.
A $4.2 million project to revitalize the riverfront area and spur economic development in the blocks near the river was completed in 2004. Most recently, the city successfully applied for a transportation enhancement grant and will receive more than $1 million to improve the aesthetic environment of the downtown pedestrian plaza.