Entrepreneur’s Story: Wendell August Forge– February 01, 2018 by Randy Myeroff

In this installment of Entrepreneur’s Story, highlighting the journey of successful private companies and their leaders, we learn about Will Knecht and Wendell August Forge, based in Grove City, Pennsylvania. Will and his team have shown great conviction of purpose and dedication to keeping the 94-year-old international seller of hand-forged products alive throughout some incredibly tough challenges. Below is an excerpt from “Preserving the Past, Adapting to the Future: Staying True To Its Roots While Minding the Market Guides the Success of Wendell August Forge” from the fall 2017 issue of Taxonomics.
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The company had just received the largest order in its history — 18,000 commemorative metal tickets made by hand that the Pittsburgh Penguins would distribute to fans to honor the final game held in the city’s Civic Arena. Ecstatic at the news, the company’s artisans had all agreed to work around the clock, seven days a week, to fulfill the massive order in time to meet the team’s deadline — just over a month away.
 
It was the thrill of victory after being devastated by the financial downturn of 2009. “Many advisors had recommended that we sell our assets and go out of business during that time,” recalls Knecht. “We made a commitment as a family to do whatever it took to keep the business going.” To Knecht, that order from the Pittsburgh Penguins was a sign of validation that the company was going to make it. Unfortunately, optimism didn’t last for long.
 
Just two days later, while making a delivery to one of the company’s retail stores, Knecht got a devastating phone call. “They said ‘get back here, the forge is on fire,’” he recalls. “The next call was ‘Will, the forge is burning down.’” Driving back, from three or four miles away, he could see the plume of smoke. “Our facility literally burned to the ground. We lost our flagship store, our corporate offices and our workshop.”
 
Read the full story to learn more on how Wendell August has defined manufacturing success and persevered even during tough times.  
 
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