Ken Wagner, founder of Wagner Industries, embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity of the Schuylkill County business community. Simply put, he refuses to accept defeat.
On Tuesday evening, June 26, 2001 he watched the fruit of three decades of effort go up in smoke. A fire destroyed the Wagner Industries plant in Frackville Industrial Park. The building and contents literally disappeared.
Over 45 years in business making high performance quality parts
The company concentrates on making replacement parts for machines that manufacture corrugated cartons and packaging materials.
At the turn of the new century, the Wagner plant was producing its distinctive red urethane rollers, feed wheels, scores, crushers and other replacement parts for box makers throughout the United States and across the globe. Wagner parts were in prominent use in Australia, Japan, Europe and South America.
Ken developed and acquired a patent for a box-making machine part that he named the Key-LokTM anvil cover. Key-LokTM saved time in replacing worn anvil covers. It took the industry by storm. A plant expansion in the late 1990s to keep up with demand, created more jobs for machinists, tool makers and other skilled workers.
We make everything we sell, we stand behind everything we make
Fast forward to 2002: the June fire wiped out the plant, machinery, supplies and inventory. Yet in a matter of weeks Ken had a building in Ashland, and started to acquire the equipment needed to get back into production. He continued to operate from the Ashland location until the new, state-of-the-art and expanded facility was built at the location of the previous plant. Early in 2003, a little over a year after the fire left this company in ashes, Wagner Industries returned to its Frackville location. It was bigger, better, nicer and poised to continue its strategy of innovation.
To that end, the company spawned a line of products that have been the toast of the NASCAR industry. In addition, the Soft Jaws, vice jaw protector, has been changing the gun smithing, motorcycle repair and other industries where a vice is used on delicate parts.
Today Ken and Dee are proud that Wagner Industries is a second generation company. Tina is the General Manager of the firm and a knowledgeable voice familiar to most customers. Steve is Vice President and production manager in charge of engineering.
This nimble company developed the spring steel corrugator brushes with a polyurethane spine that has been replacing old carbon fiber brushes. Less expensive and much longer lasting, this product is another example of innovation in the evolving history of Wagner Industries.