Sutphen unveils Urbana facility


By Alixandria Wells-Good

Contributing writer

On Tuesday, March 19, Sutphen Corporation hosted many community leaders, company leaders, as well as several generations of the Sutphen family at their new Urbana facility to celebrate their grand opening. The brand-new 185,000 square-foot facility is located at 935 S. Edgewood Ave. in Urbana.

The complex combines three facilities into one expansive manufacturing site. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility occupies 25 acres of the 55 acres purchased by Sutphen in 2021. The additional 30 acres provide additional space for future growth and expansion.

Sutphen Corporation began moving into the facility in late 2023 and has already created over 25 jobs at the location, bringing the total Sutphen workforce in Urbana to over 225 team members. The family-owned company is continuing to hire and has numerous additional open positions at its new facility, according to a press release.

Sutphen Corporation, founded in 1890, is the nation’s largest and oldest continuously family-owned and operated fire apparatus manufacturer. With headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, the company manufactures heavy-duty, custom-built emergency response vehicles.

The fourth generation of the Sutphen family currently leads the company and fifth-generation family members work in various positions throughout the business. Many of the family members were at the grand opening ceremony.

Sutphen Corporation is a sole source manufacturer that designs, manufactures and sells fire apparatus from the ground up. From chassis and cab to aerial ladder and apparatus body, Sutphen manufactures each piece of an apparatus. This process creates streamlined production processes and consistent quality control with undivided responsibility, according to literature from Sutphen.

Sutphen Urbana is home to Sutphen’s extreme-duty custom chassis line, Sutphen’s corporate service and technical center and Sutphen’s Ohio custom pumper line. The business’s three other operations in Dublin, Ohio, Hilliard, Ohio, and Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, will remain where they are located.

Drew Sutphen, fourth-generation family president of Sutphen Corporation, began the ceremony by thanking the community for their ongoing support. He stated: “We’re here because of the people. It’s the workers, the people in the community, and the environment that you all as leaders of the City of Urbana have helped us grow. And we look forward to grow another 25 acres on the other side of the building in the future.”

Julie Sutphen Phelps, fourth-generation family vice president of Sutphen Corporation, went on to say: “The most important thing that I know he (Drew) and I both believe that makes Sutphen special is our people. We go far beyond just the Sutphen family working here. We have about 40-45% of our employee base that has another family member working here. There is no better compliment that both Drew and I feel than when somebody says ‘can my son/daughter/husband/wife come work here’ … it’s the ultimate of compliments.”

Community leaders such as Urbana Mayor Bill Bean and Director of Champaign County Economic Partnership Rich Ebert spoke at the ceremony alongside Tim Barhorst, Ohio State Representative District 85.

Shelby Sutphen-Chambers, strategy and culture advancer at Sutphen Corporation, finished up the ceremony by saying: “This is a monumental day. It’s a monumental day for our family, it’s a monumental day for our team members, and really it’s a monumental day for Sutphen’s legacy in the fire industry.”

She went on to say: “Our fifth generation is going to keep trying to learn as much as we can as fast as we can from our family. And really it comes down to continuing to build on an amazing foundation that our parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so many other folks have put out there for us. Our family is aligned and we are certainly committed to continuing to grow responsibly for another 130 years and we’re really happy to be doing it right here in Urbana.”

Julie, Drew and Shelby all agreed that the people are the best part about working at Sutphen.

Julie Sutphen Phelps said: “Whether it’s the clientele people, or our in-house customers and out-of-house customers. we have the best clientele. I mean, imagine your customer base being fire departments. Can you work for a better group of individuals and people that are out there trying to make the world a better place and safer place?”

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