With three facilities in Elyria and two new plants (in Michigan and California), the Elyria-based manufacturer is sitting pretty. About 290 people work in Elyria for the growing company, which produces tools — made from synthetic diamonds — that cut and core concrete. The company is considered the No. 1 or No. 2 manufacturer of its kind in the nation. It built some of the primary machinery that replaced the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in just one week’s time.
Inside the scarlet and gray building along Route 57, it’s equipment season for Riddell, the people who clothe and protect professional, college and high school sports teams across the nation.
The Elyria facility famed for its football helmets also reconditions athletic equipment including lacrosse, hockey and baseball gear. It makes Saturday and Sunday afternoons extra special for the company’s 300 employees.
“People can see the product they work on [on TV]. When they are watching the Browns or their favorite college team or favorite pro team, those helmets are made right there in Ohio,” says Ken Ward, the vice president of finance and the company treasurer. “Our employees, every year in football season, see our product and our name emblazoned on the front of the helmet or chin strap.”
Riddell was founded in Illinois in 1929 and began moving a portion of their operations to Ohio in the early ’90s, buying out All American Sports Corp. The manufacturing and financial operations arrived in 2005.
“We moved the new helmets to Elyria as a further sign of the strength of the area and of the people that are producing the product,” Ward says. “The people are the strength of the organization and our relationship with our customers.”