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Case Study:

The Strategic Merging of Ajax, CECO, and Erie Press 


Navigating the complex business world often calls for strategic decisions to foster growth and profitability. The story of Ajax/CECO/Erie Press (ACE), a prominent entity in the forging and forming industry, demonstrates this principle through its association with ParkOhio. Under the watchful leadership of Edward Crawford, ParkOhio orchestrated the successful merging of three significant entities—Ajax, CECO, and Erie Press—ensuring stability, growth, and a prosperous future. 

Acquisition and Identification of Challenges 

ParkOhio initiated the journey towards the creation of ACE – Ajax/CECO/Erie Press by purchasing Ajax Manufacturing in 1994, followed by the acquisition of CECO (Chambersburg Equipment Company) in 2004. While Ajax boasted a strong reputation for manufacturing new equipment and excelling in aftermarket parts efforts, it was Erie Press Systems that stood out for its success in engineering, manufacturing, and servicing new equipment. 

CECO, on the brink of liquidation, presented a unique opportunity for Mr. Crawford, who recognized its value beyond immediate circumstances. He purchased all drawings, intellectual properties, and assets, combining it with Ajax's capabilities to expand the product portfolio.

Strategic Merging: Creating a Powerhouse 

Recognizing the strengths of each entity, ParkOhio initiated the strategic merger of Erie Press and Ajax-CECO in 2019. This move combined the best of both worlds—Ajax's proficiency in aftermarket parts and Erie Press' knack for new equipment manufacturing. 

With the support of ParkOhio's financial backing, the merge was set to succeed. ParkOhio's funding provided the much-needed stability and expansion opportunities, paving the way for ACE to become North America's largest Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of forging and forming equipment, parts & service, with a global reach. 

Overcoming Challenges and Advancing Growth

Any transition often comes with initial hiccups. The merging of Ajax, CECO, and Erie Press was no exception, with a rocky start that demanded meticulous management. However, within two years, ACE not only achieved financial stability but also physically merged both teams into the Erie, Pennsylvania manufacturing facility. 

A major milestone was the acquisition of a $40 million project, a testament to ACE's growing strength and potential. This success bodes well for both the company and its investors, highlighting the wisdom of ParkOhio's strategic decisions and financial investments.


Today, ACE stands as the embodiment of successful strategic mergers in the forging and forming industry. Leveraging the combined experience, expertise, and resources of Ajax, CECO, and Erie Press, ACE serves its customers with expertly engineered, precision-quality solutions. ParkOhio's leadership has been instrumental in guiding this transition, navigating challenges, and setting ACE up for a successful future. This narrative remains a shining example of strategic problem-solving and business growth in the manufacturing industry. 

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