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Hohl manufacturing operation returns under new ownership

Jim Wei said he came upon the former Hohl Machine and Conveyor building on Niagara Street at just the right time.

Wei learned the equipment was going to be auctioned off and the long, rectangular building near the Niagara River was going to be sold separately. Instead, Wei struck a deal that kept everything together.

Now he has revived the business, a machine shop and a maker of material handling devices and conveyor technologies, under a slightly different name, Hohl Machinery.

The Hohl name had a long history in local manufacturing. Frank J. Hohl started Hohl Machine and Conveyor in the 1940s, initially as a side venture with some fellow Dunlop Tire employees in a shop at Main and Hertel. The business turned into a full-time operation and later moved to Niagara Street. Wei said it closed last year.

Wei said he is making upgrades to equipment and the facility and has four employees so far. He plans to bring employees more on board as business picks up. Wei has been reaching out to past customers of the business and said the Hohl name still has currency in the industry.

Wei comes in with a manufacturing background through Avanti, his injection molding company. He has also brought back some former Hohl employees.

"I'm appreciative of the employees because I'm learning a lot from them as we go forward together," he said.

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