Tazewell Machine Works

TAZEWELL MACHINE WORKS Not too big, not too small P ekin is a quaint little blue-collar town nestled right in the heart of central Illinois, about halfway between Chicago and St. Louis. It’s also been the home of Tazewell Machine Works, manufacturers specializing in complex rough and machined aluminum sand castings, for the last 75 years. “My grandparents came to Pekin in 1938,” recounts Mack Cakora, Tazewell’s third- generation part owner. “My grandfather, Henry F. Cakora, worked at a machine shop here in town called Excel Foundry & Machine until he made the decision to go out on his own. He had only an 8th grade education, so he was a self-taught, self-educated individual. In 1945, he bought an auto repair garage and started his own machine shop. Because he was having to go to other foundries to get castings to machine, a few years in, he decided he’d start making his own castings. Tazewell started out as a small brass foundry, but it became a non-ferrous foundry, pouring both brass and aluminum castings and machining them. By 1963, the facility was up to 20,000 square feet. My grandfather ran the foundry and machine shop operations while my grandmother, Blanche, took care of the office and the books. In July 1963, a fire destroyed that facility and it was rebuilt elsewhere in Pekin.” “We decided, in 1973, to get out of brass in order to make the operation more efficient,” Cakora continues. “At that time, Caterpillar was, for all practical purposes, our only customer. We had picked up a few others, but Caterpillar represented over 90 percent of our business. When they started outsourcing the machining on aluminum castings, we decided to get back into it. So, from 1979 until the present, we’ve operated as an aluminum sand foundry and a machine shop.” Today, Tazewell employs 49 people and operates out of a 116,000-square-foot facility. Its management team has over 248 combined years of service experience and a proven track record of high-quality castings at competitive prices. “We run castings anywhere from under a pound all the way up to 320 lbs. With few exceptions, any