Busch & Thiem:

A history of thrive, survive, and thrive again.


Market & Decatur Street

Carl Busch worked for a local dairy and had a passion for inventing. William Thiem owned an auto dealership on the corner of Market & Decatur. Our history began when Carl began to use space in William’s service department. There, he invented, manufactured, & sold aluminum ice cream mold frames; AKA “ice cream packers.” What was to become the foundation of creative grit and can-do at Busch & Thiem, Carl also assisted with the pressing of rubber tires on the wooden spoke wheels of that era.

Founded in 1926 with $500, the business of Busch & Thiem centered on machines, mechanical apparatus, tools, and equipment. Services included planning, design, manufacture, install and repair. 

Within 10 years, the business not only survived, it thrived. It evolved to incorporate process improvements, the need to subcontract work as needed and increased wages in a competitive labor market.


East Market Street

In January 1942 the company purchased a 10,000 square foot building from The One Minute Washing Machine Company for $7500. As it grew, the company invested in state-of-the art machinery that included punch presses and spray paint technology. It began to offer in-house custom design services for its customers.

Frank Chill joined Busch & Thiem as plant manager in the late thirties. After many years of service as superintendent of the Sweet Valley Wine Company, Vern Ohlemacher joined the company as Secretary & Treasurer in 1951.

When the company declared bankruptcy in 1957, Frank & Vern took over as owners and managers. They brought the company back to solvency and success and were able to sell their shares in 1976. Frank sold his shares to his son, Charles Chill. Vern sold his shares to his grandson, Bryan Ohlemacher

Business continued to grow. In January 1984, Busch & Thiem completed a much-needed expansion that added 3,000 square feet of floor space to the East Market Street location. The evening of March 23rd of that same year, a fire destroyed all the operations but spared the new addition.

Within 2 days, a temporary office was up and running and machine-salvage efforts began. For a time, the business was paralyzed. There was no manufacturing and no financial resources. And at that time the company did not subcontract work. The business was in a pickle. On Monday, March 26th, customers began calling frantically with concerns over how and when orders would be completed and shipped. B&T no longer had manufacturing or financial resources. So, Busch & Thiem did the right thing. They did something that, normally, a business would never do, they gave their customers the names and contacts of all their competitors. It was huge a risk. However, it was the only way that they could be ‘of service’ to their customers. It was the customers only chance of getting what they needed in reasonable amount of time.

May 9, 1984, Busch & Thiem purchased a 33,000 square foot building located at 1316 Cleveland Road where it continues today. In just 6 weeks, with razor sharp focus, they salvaged what remained and set up operations in the new building. They were back up and running. EVERY customer came back with orders.

Customers Busch & Thiem served at that time included American Greetings, Great Lakes Displays, Creative Color Merchandising, Displayco Midwest, and Downing Enterprises.


Cleveland Road

In 1989 Busch & Thiem acquired Precision Wire Inc. of Cleveland which operated as a separate entity until 1993 when it became the Precision Wire Division of Busch & Thiem. In 1994 the wire-cutting and straightening division joined the operations at 1316 Cleveland Road. Over the years the company introduced a Gainsharing Plan for employees and continuously boasts about its safety record which includes 3,750 consecutive days with no loss of work day accidents.

For three decades, Busch & Thiem primarily provided design, engineering, and fabrication services to point-of-purchase display houses. We built a solid business of ongoing customer relationships because we delivered both high quality and rapid turnaround.

In recent years, the business has evolved, again, as customer needs and manufacturing specifications have changed. The shift to offshore manufacturing made price expectations out of reach for smaller, US based manufacturers. Add to that, the fact that online sales has reduced the amount of brick and mortar retail and therefore the demand for displays and merchandisers. Who moved the cheese?

Today, our focus is to serve customers in areas where we excel:

  • Do you have a project that hasn’t been prototyped or tested (due to lack of time) that requires concurrent engineering?
    We do that.
  • Can you supply the overall parameters and then have us develop the details that allow those parameters to be met?
    We do that.
  • Do you need subassembly of components or components integrated from other suppliers?
    We do that.
  • Do you need quality checks to verify that components meet the fit and finish parameters for final assembly?
    We do that.
  • Do you need a retrofit and/or repair fabrications produced by a previous supplier?
    We do that.
  • Do you need a team to reverse engineer fabrications of the past to build new and improved versions?
    We do that.

We solve problems that no one else will tackle. And we continue to provide high quality work at a competitive price. We provide components for original equipment manufacturing, custom material handling (conveyor tooling, carriers) for large plants like Whirlpool and are the go-to, outsourced project team for other manufacturing companies to increase their capacity.

Contact us now for a quote on your project. Call 419-625-7515 to speak with someone on our team.