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Birmingham and Manufacturing: Looking Ahead to 2021


Once known as a steel-producing city with its mammoth Sloss Furnace that still stands today, Birmingham, Alabama, was the largest pig iron producer and called the “Pittsburgh of the South.” Today, it has advanced in several ways. It has more than a few microbreweries and now local distillers, top-rated restaurants and the University of Alabama at Birmingham downtown. There’s also UAB Hospital, where the first kidney transplant in Alabama was performed.

Today, Birmingham is still involved in the metals industries, but it’s also part of the manufacturing and distribution of automotive components, machinery and coal mining industries. This area produces iron used to form ductile iron pipes, hydrants, valves and spiral-welded steel pipe. Gone are many of the old iron and steel furnaces but with new sustainable technology and investment, don’t expect Birmingham to lose it’s crown as the top steel producer in the southeast anytime soon.

Let’s take a look at some more of the innovative manufacturing that’s going on around Bham these days:

Douglas Manufacturing

Coal is an important product that Alabama produces. Nowadays, to generate electricity, utilities use steam coal. Metallurgical coal is used in the coking process for steel production instead of steam coal. Both are still mined here locally near Birmingham. One company that assists mining both coal and other minerals is Douglas Manufacturing that has six different industrial metal detectors for various applications. They also produce a wide range of conveyor and pulley systems for industrial mining operations like those pictured below:

Douglas Manufacturing produces industrial aluminum products too. An innovative leader in the conveyor business, Douglas Manufacturing produces more than 40 different components for high-quality conveyor systems used in a variety of mining and industrial capacities. Douglas promises to maintain quality in its engineered conveyor components and its solutions for your companies’ conveyors. With its technology, Douglas Manufacturing can create fast, custom engineered solutions for a company’s problems, whether with existing applications or new ones. With advanced technology and its engineering staff’s experience, customers will be provided swift and effective results when they engage Douglas Manufacturing.

Lignon Industries

Hydraulic cylinders similar to the one pictured above are one of the primary products sold by Lignon Industries.

A local producer of aluminum, Ligon Industries, LLC, is a metal fabricator located in Alabama. It is the largest producer of hydraulic cylinders in the U.S., and it is a producer of miscellaneous metals that have served in the water treatment industry since 1953. It also produces chrome-plated rods and tubes, along with castings to the specifications of customers.

In business for over two decades, a large part of Ligon’s growth strategy has relied on long-term acquisition strategies. Today they comprise 14 different independent companies that are all committed to providing high quality at a low cost to a diverse customer base.


Related: https://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/blog/2014/03/ligon-industries-shows-its-cards.html


Satterfield Technologies

A company of dreamers, engineers, creators and innovators, Satterfield Technologies uses cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printing. They have created custom 3D printed arm and leg braces for the medical community, unique objects for company displays, product prototypes and more recently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a brand of custom fit face masks. Satterfield Technologies currently resides in the Innovation Depot building and they are surely one of the more innovative new manufacturing companies in the greater Birmingham area.

Motion Industries

Motion Industries is a subsidiary of Genuine Parts. It distributes many products, including bearings, hoses, electrical power transmission products, pneumatic or hydraulic fluids and power transmission fluid. It also has electrical offerings such as drives and motors and mechanical parts such as clutches, belts and chains.

decorative image of industrial parts similar to those sold by Motion Industries.

In business since 1946 when Caldwell Marks and William Spencer purchased the Owen-Richards company, Motion Industries was founded in Birmingham. Since then, the company experienced decades of growth that’s been outlined in the history section on their about page. It’s a fascinating look into the growth of a local industrial solutions company over the years.

Buffalo Rock

Buffalo Rock services vending machines with beverages and snacks. This company provides customers with office coffee services and snack vending with 30 brands with 150 varieties of beverages vending and catering. If you’ve lived in Birmingham for any number of years, you’ve probably passed by the Buffalo Rock building several times going through downtown. Founded in 1901 by the Lee family, Buffalo Rock has grown into the largest independent single shareholder owned Pepsi bottling company in the US. They manufacture around a billion bottles and containers each year as further proof that we know how to get stuff done here in Birmingham. Buffalo Rock is also committed to giving back to our local community by donating to worthy causes. If you have a local charity or other need, they invite you to fill out a donation form so they can help support your organization’s goals.


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