July 23 • 05:49 AM
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Duggan Manufacturing has roots in dairy barn/welding shop

Almont Community Historical Society President James R. Wade, Sr.'s letter that was published in the April 27th edition of the Tri-City Times at Page 8-A, entitled: "Ebling Dairy Stories/Photos Wanted," provided an interesting summary of the history of Fred and Edna Duggan's Almont homestead during the 20th Century. However, during the first two years of the 21st Century that block, metal roofed, former dairy barn/welding shop was the incubator for what has become one of the most respected specialty sheet metal prototype and limited production manufacturing companies in the United States.

As a youngster, Rodney Westich regularly found himself in that barn, which was then a welding shop, watching in amazement as Fred Duggan created and repaired parts for local businesses and implements for local farmers. Rodney was fascinated by the skills his grandfather possessed.

After graduating from Dryden High School in the 1980s, Rodney put the welding skills and other knowledge that Fred Duggan had imparted to him to work. After years of employment with a company that seemed to have no real appreciation for the skills and the knowledge that he possessed, Rodney moved on.

In late August of 2000, Rodney, along with close friend Anthony Pinho, secured financial support from one of Rodney's sisters and mutual friend Scott Parsons, which afforded newly formed Duggan Manufacturing the ability to purchase a few used machines and begin operating an automotive specialty sheet metal prototype and limited production manufacturing company out of Fred and Edna's former dairy barn/welding shop on Van Dyke in Almont.

By October of 2001, Duggan Manufacturing had out grown that facility and, because of a lack of adequate available industrial space in Almont, moved its operations to Shelby Township.

During the 'Great Recession' while General Motors and Chrysler were navigating through bankruptcy, Duggan Manufacturing expanded its operations into the military and aeronautical industries. While many of its competitors were forced to lay off employees or cease operations all together, Duggan Manufacturing grew to over 270 employees.

Today, Duggan Manufacturing services clients from around the world from two industrial buildings of over 102,000 square feet located within a nine acre campus, which it owns near the intersection of Ryan and 22 Mile Roads.

With all the success that Duggan Manufacturing worked hard to obtain, Rodney will quickly tell anyone who asks that the time that he most cherishes is the fourteen month period when the company was located in Almont. While Fred had passed away before Duggan Manufacturing began operations, Rodney was able to visit with his grandmother every day while the company was located in Almont.

Edna Duggan lived well into her 90s. After her passing, the Almont homestead was sold and shortly thereafter fell into disrepair. While the Fred and Edna Duggan's home and dairy barn/welding shop were recently demolished, the memories of those buildings and more importantly the people that occupied them will live on for a long, long time.


—Eric Flinn
May 04, 2016

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