Northwest Cleveland Road Economic Development Area
In 1923, H. P. Axelberg, the son of a Norwegian immigrant, saw opportunity with the growth of Studebaker Organization and the University of Notre Dame. With the goal of serving the industrial sheet metal needs of the thriving community he opened General Sheet Metal Works on South Main Street, designing and building paint booths, dust collectors, and air handling systems for the Studebaker automotive plants. Soon, GSMW was building ventilation systems and metal roofing for the University of Notre Dame. Responsiveness to customer needs for metal fabrications led to the company replacing the gold leaf on the University’s iconic Golden Dome.
Municipal construction projects sustained the company through the Great Depression. By the 1940’s and with the United States’ entry into World War II, GSMW took on numerous projects for Studebaker, as assembly lines were reconfigured to produce equipment for the war effort.
After the war, residential construction and products boomed, creating new metal fabrication opportunities. In response, a separate five-man manufacturing division provided metal component parts for manufacturers of finished products. Opportunities increased, while demand for sheet metal contracting declined. Soon, metal fabrication became GSMW’s primary focus. As the principal supplier to Wheel Horse Products, a South Bend company enjoying tremendous success with its line of garden tractors, GSMW added to its fabricating capabilities, resulting in new customers and enabling GSMW to enter new markets while continuously diversifying its fabrication skills and offerings.
Customer demand led to the building of a new, dedicated facility in Tomah, Wisconsin, to simplify a major customer’s logistics. By 2010, the company’s rapid response in producing mounting infrastructure for the secondary energy market, most notably in utility grade solar, led to a significant expansion of its stamping, welding and assembly capacities to help its customer scale their operation.
In 2014, no longer able to grow at their South Main Street location south of Downtown South Bend, GSMW worked with St. Joseph County officials to identify a new location for the construction of a new business center and main manufacturing facility. To assist GSMW in their transition to this new site located west of Olive Road on Old Cleveland Road adjacent to the Airport Industrial Area, the St. Joseph County Redevelopment Commission established a single payer economic development area identified as the Northwest Cleveland Economic Development Area to specifically assist GSMW in financing project costs for the new development project.
Today, as General Stamping & Metalworks (GSM), the brand new 190,000 square foot factory and leading edge fabrication equipment are just the next step in the company's evolution, one based on 95 years of experience and a reputation for delivering on time, at the right price, exactly what our customers want. Today, as General Stamping & Metalworks, the company has evolved to become one of North America’s leading providers of stampings and fabricated metal parts to progressive OEM’s worldwide. GSM is considered a strategic partner and trusted provider by leading manufacturers in a wide range of industries.