Budde family manufacturing in Dayton for nearly 100 years

Budde Sheet Metal, at 305 Leo St., is celebrating 95 years in business. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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Budde Sheet Metal, at 305 Leo St., is celebrating 95 years in business. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Budde Sheet Metals Works has weathered great depressions, world wars and decades of sweeping change.

The Dayton manufacturer at 305 Leo St. turns 95 this week and is celebrating another milestone this year.

Company co-owner Tom Budde is marking 60 years with the company. He started with the company when he was 19 years old.

“He’s amazing for being almost 80 years old,” said Budde’s daughter, Angie Haller. “He’s definitely a great leader for the company.”

Family members started the business and oversee it to this day. The shop is owned by Budde and two second-cousins, Steve Budde, his daughter Candace Budde, and Bill Budde, Jr. Haller is also a shareholder and involved with the company.

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Budde’s grandfather and uncle started the company on Dayton’s west side before moving it to Leo in 1950, where it has been based since.

With about 50 employees, the business is a precision sheet metal producer that acts as a job shop for mainly aerospace and defense customers as well as Procter & Gamble, thanks mainly to the acquisition of a Lima company about a decade ago.

P&G last year announced $65 million expansion of a laundry detergent manufacturing plant in Allen County. That expansion resulted in 51 new P&G jobs and has kept Budde busy in Dayton and Lima.

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Budde has long since moved on from sheet metal fabrication for heating, cooling and ventilation duct work for General Motors and Delphi plants, although that was a mainstay for the business for decades. The duct work for the legendary Rike’s department store in downtown Dayton was also fabricated here.

But today, you are more likely to find parts produced for Volvo jet engines and the F-35 strike fighter at the company.

“We’ve done a lot of industrial and in-plant ventilation,” Budde said. “Procter & Gamble is a big customer of ours.”

Parts that had been designed on paper years ago are designed today on computers with 3-D modeling, under the watchful eye of Ryan Gudorf, the company’s computer-assisted drawing and computer-assisted machining supervisor. A recently purchased $1 million laser-cutting machine in the company’s work bay does in 45 minutes a job that once took all day.

Asked about the company’s 100th anniversary in five years, Budde laughed and said: “I’m 79 years old right now. I’m getting a little bit long in the tooth.”

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