Jason Baum (left) joins his grandparents Earlene and Larry Baum outside the plant during the tour Saturday.
Hastings Fiber Glass welcomed the community into its new $8 million facility at 1301 W. Green St. Saturday to celebrate 60 years of business.
The open house from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. provided tours, demonstrations and lunch at the site for global manufacturer of products and tools for the electrical power and communications industries.
The company is owned and operated by the Baum family, local philanthropists who have contributed in many ways to the well-being of the Hastings community.
The presence of Larry and Earlene Baum at the event was particularly meaningful for employees and community members, who said how happy they were to see them. With their grandson Jason at their side, the Baums used a golf cart to get around, talking with family, friends and colleagues, and watching demonstrations and tour groups view the company that was started in a garage.
The company was founded in June 1959 by Earl McMullin, an early pioneer in the fiberglass industry. During World War II, he had helped engineer some of the first prototypes for the material.
Sixty years ago, he started the business, which began with just five employees, most of whom were family, including McMullin's daughter, Earlene. She said the company owes much of its growth to her husband, Larry Baum, who cultivated new business opportunities with electrical utility companies, such as Consumers Power and Detroit Edison.
Its patented designs include “hot line” tools and equipment for electrical workers to protect them when they work on live power lines.
Saturday, the telescoping fiberglass “hot sticks” were demonstrated. These tools can be safely used by power crews as they work on lines carrying more than 100,000 volts of electricity.
Hastings Fiber Glass products help utility companies across the nation keep the lights on while power lines are being repaired or replaced, company officials are proud to point out.