Featured above are our four main facilities: Top Left: Vicksburg, MS; Top Right: Vancouver, WA;
Bottom Left: Maryville, MO; Bottom Right: Fenton, MO
The Beginning: Preparing for the Oregon Trail
Laclede Chain Manufacturing Company traces its roots back to 1854, when we started out as a blacksmith shop in St. Louis, Missouri, manufacturing wagon hardware for the wagon trains heading west. Most significantly we produced breast chain, trace chain, and anti-spreader chains to support wagons under load. This chain was made, as it is today, from drawn rod or wire, but back then it was all formed with a blacksmith’s hammer, then individually welded and joined over a hearth and bellows.
In 1920, we imported new electric forming and welding machines from Europe. Our team members took them apart to understand the technology and built more of them right here in house. Today, this spirit is still alive and well at Laclede—our team members often modify equipment to make new configurations of chain and fittings possible.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the company continued to grow, eventually operating two manufacturing plants in St. Louis, MO and Maryville, MO. To make our operation more efficient, we moved our St. Louis operation to our Maryville facility and expanded that space with a 30,000 square foot addition.
Laclede Steel Acquisition
In 1984, the company was acquired by Laclede Steel Company of St. Louis and we became known as Laclede Chain Manufacturing Company. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, we focused on adding state-of-the-art chain manufacturing equipment that added over 20,000,000 pounds of annual production capacity. We also added our continuous heat treatment equipment that allowed us to start producing high-quality Grade 80 (and eventually G100 and G120) alloy chain. Bringing our heat treatment in house helped us shorten lead times for customers and gave us full control over the quality of our products.
Family Owned and the Future
Jim Riley, who had been president and CEO of Laclede Chain, along with long term General Manager Steve Heuett, purchased the company from Laclede Steel in 2010. In 2011, we expanded operations down to Vicksburg, MS to put us closer to more customers in the southern United States. In the past few years, we have added several new machines—we’ve increased our chain making capacity, added in-house riveting, built our own single-link welder, and launched our multi-million-dollar powder coating division. We’ve also incorporated 3D printing technology into our design and prototyping process to increase speed and create cost efficiency.
Jim’s son, Tim Riley, joined the organization’s leadership as vice president in 2016. In 2019, Tim took over as company president and Jim transitioned to his current role as chairman.
Just as we helped secure Conestoga wagons for their journeys in the 19th century, today Laclede Chain helps customers make all types of industrial applications safer and more efficient with innovations such as grade 120, Hi-Viz, and premium domestic fittings. We’ve evolved from a single blacksmith’s shop into a nationwide manufacturing company with over 250,000 square feet of production and distribution space. And while we have the resources of a large company, we are a family business that values relationships with our customers above everything else. By truly understanding your needs, our chain experts and engineers are able to think ahead to create chain and motion control solutions that help protect your business and enable its growth.