Century-old Diamond Chain downtown plant with 240 employees set for closure

The Diamond Chain Co. Inc. factory at 402 Kentucky Ave. (Image courtesy of Google)

The 102-year-old Diamond Chain plant at 402 Kentucky Ave. in Indianapolis will close over the next 24 to 36 months, ending local employment for 240 people at the facility, the company’s new owner said Tuesday.

Diamond Chain, which makes high-performance roller chains for industrial uses at the downtown facility, was acquired in April for $84 million by Timken Co., a much larger company based in North Canton, Ohio.

Company spokesman Scott Schroeder told IBJ that Timken will relocate the Indianapolis operations to its Fulton, Illinois facility, establishing the northwest Illinois site as the headquarters for Timken’s global chain business.

“Since acquiring Diamond Chain last year, we’ve been carefully evaluating how to best integrate the business,” Schroeder said in an email. “Our lease is expiring in Indianapolis; relocating to Fulton, where we own the facility, allows us to leverage our existing manufacturing footprint to best serve our customers.”

Diamond Chain also has  operations in China which will continue, Schroeder said. “We value the Diamond Chain brand and will continue to operate the business.”

Indianapolis employees got the news on Tuesday, Schroeder said. He said qualified employees may have the chance to fill open positions at the Fulton plant.

The Indianapolis facility will continue to operate until production is successfully transferred to Fulton, Schroeder said.

Diamond Chain has a long history in Indianapolis, and the company has had a series of different owners over the years.

According to information from the Indiana Historical Society, the company dates to 1890, when Arthur Newby, Edward Fletcher and Glen Howe incorporated a bicycle-chain company originally known as the Indianapolis Chain & Stamping Co.

The company became the Diamond Chain division of the American Bicycle Co. in 1899. In 1905, the plant’s general manager, Lucius Wainwright, purchased the company and renamed it as Diamond Chain & Manufacturing Co.

The company’s original facility was on South Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania Streets. It relocated to Senate Street in 1895 before moving to its current location in 1918.

According to Diamond Chain’s website, the company’s products were used in Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first flying machine, Henry Ford’s first automobile and numerous championship motorsport vehicles.

Wainwright and his son, Guy Wainwright, ran the company for nearly 50 years before selling to American Steel Foundries, which is now called Amsted Industries. Timken acquired Diamond Chain from Amsted last year.

Timken, founded in 1899, makes engineered bearings and power transmission products. The company posted $3.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2018 and has more than 17,000 employees in 35 countries. It has manufacturing plants and service centers around the U.S. and overseas, including a facility in Mishawaka.

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10 thoughts on “Century-old Diamond Chain downtown plant with 240 employees set for closure

  1. While I am sad for employees who will lose their jobs, this is another big potential boost for downtown Indianapolis. When the Justice Center is finished and the jail can be torn down, I expect that site to add momentum to the transformation of the city core. Now this site at South – Kentucky – West close to LOS can be another dramatic change.

  2. Arthur Newby, rest his soul, has seen a lot of change lately. First his beloved Speedway changes hands (although it is in good hands) and now this. I hate to see old buildings torn down but I can only imagine what a good developer could do with this site. Old industrial buildings make great reuse opportunities, but Diamond is a big cement block. Maybe the entrance facade gets saved and something incredible goes up around it.

    1. I would love it if the facade got saved and it repurposed for something new. My dad worked there for 52 years!

  3. I was surprised, or at least confused, as to no mention of the Test family in any ownership of Diamond Chain, or earlier names of the company? I was under the impression Skiles Test (house of Blue Lights, and local playboy and friend of movie stars) was a decendent of the Test family who had ownership in DC and the Test building on Monument Circle?

    1. Kevin I was surprised as well. Perhaps Susan Orr, the author of the article could shed some light on the absence of the Test family in this article as it relates to the historical significant of this company.

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