Indy case maker with 113-year history acquired

A local holding company that specializes in manufacturing firms has acquired C.H. Ellis Co., an Indianapolis-based maker of custom cases that has been in business since 1902.

MPI Corp., also based in Indianapolis, closed the sale on Tuesday. Terms of the deal with a small group of C.H. Ellis shareholders were not disclosed.

C.H. Ellis is headquartered in a 56,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility at 2432 Southeastern Ave. It employs about 40 full-time workers, who make a variety of plastic, sewn and fabricated cases for tools, shipping, medical and military uses.

The company was founded in a Capital City Supply Co. and originally made harnesses and saddles in an Indianapolis-area barn, according to the company website. The business evolved and moved over the decades. With the government rationing leather during World War II, the company expanded its focus to the material handling industry, selling roller, wheel and power belt conveyors. In 1946, it turned its efforts to sales presentation cases and employed nearly 100 workers in buildings at Pennsylvania and Georgia streets.

It relocated to its current location in 1958. It later moved some of its sewing requirements to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic to reduce costs.

MPI intends to continue operating the business without any changes in location, employment or products, according to Jason Brewer, vice president of strategy for MPI.

“We are pleased to have found a buyer who will care for our people and our customers as much as we have,” said former C. H. Ellis President and shareholder  Robert Able, who continues to run the operations side of the business. 

MPI owns three other manufacturing and distribution companies in Indiana, Brewer said.

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