ATA Tools decided to show off a bit on Friday.

Make that lots of bits.

The specialty manufacturer, which makes high quality tungsten carbide burrs and cutting tools used to finish metal and composite products, opened up its new facility on Ascot Parkway in Akron to customers and other guests for a few hours.

“This is the largest burr manufacturing facility in the world,” said Hector Diaz-Stringel, president of the Akron company. The facility’s history goes back to SGS Tool’s burr division, which Ireland-based ATA bought about six years ago.

ATA’s rotary cutting tools in turn are used by companies around the world to remove materials and in finishing products. Customers include contractors and subcontractors in automotive, aerospace, marine/ship building, oil and gas and other industries.

The Akron facility and its 102 employees make 3.5 million to 3.7 million of the 8 million tungsten carbide burrs ATA manufactures annually and exports them globally, Diaz-Stringel said. ATA has two other factories in Europe.

“Anywhere metal is used, we are there,” Diaz-Stringel said.

“What we offer our customer is a solution that can finish any metal piece,” said Sophia Heslin, ATA’s group marketing manager based in Ireland.

ATA’s recent move to the new 60,000-square-foot facility in Ascot Industrial Park from a 40,000-square-foot building in nearby Cuyahoga Falls is all about the future, Diaz-Stringel said.

“It allows us to grow,” he said. “When we were in Cuyahoga Falls, we were landlocked. ... We have a lot of aggressive plans for growth.”

Goals for growth

ATA targets growth both in specific industries and geographically, he said. The company is eyeing South America as a new export market, he said.

“We export from this facility to more than 60 countries,” Diaz-Stringel said. “But we still have geographies that are not fully explored.”

Besides having acres-more space available for additional expansion, the Akron facility features open office plans up front and a clean, modern and well-lit factory floor at the rear.

The change is appreciated by employees.

Gene Gharky, who has worked at ATA and its predecessor for 32 years, said the new facility helps his job as a profile technician, which involves the early stages of tool building.

“This is definitely a big improvement,” the 67-year-old Rootstown resident said. “The lights alone, I can see a lot better. Because of our growth, we had to get a bigger building.”

Tim Roberts, a quality inspector, said he’s been with the company for 18 years. He’s 38 and lives in Suffield Township.

“This facility’s nice,” Roberts said. “It’s really clean. It’s air conditioned.”

Success story

Among the invited guests at the open house was Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, who addressed the group.

“We are absolutely delighted that you chose the city of Akron,” he said.

Horrigan noted that the business park originally was a racetrack that went out of business. Now, the repurposed site is a success story, he said.

In talking to open house guests, Diaz-Stringel said the previous facility was only about a mile away.

“We started this journey a couple years ago,” he said. “This building was already here. With minor tweaks, we made it our own. We’re very happy with the result. We are set for the future.”

Afterward, Diaz-Stringel said business is good.

“We have seen a strong economy, really going back to late 2017,” he said. “But we see a lot of uncertainty.”

That uncertainty revolves around the imposition of new tariffs by the United States and other nations and talk of even more tariffs to come, he said.

Besides its exported burrs, ATA Tools also imports raw materials, all of which can be affected by tariffs, he said.

“All this talk about tariffs and trade wars, that brings a lot of uncertainty not only for ATA but for the markets that we serve,” he said. “It’s hard to tell whether this robust economy we’ve seen the last few months is going to continue the next six months.”

Reporter Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ