Among the specialty chemicals made by the 500 employees of 3M’s Cordova plant are the adhesives used in Scotch brand tape and Post-it Notes.
ABC Coating Manteno
ABC moved to Manteno in 2016, in part to be closer to supplier Nucor. The company coats steel used in bridge construction — and coated the steel used in Trump Tower Chicago. Its plant employs about three dozen workers.
Abbvie Lake Bluff
The $28 billion pharmaceutical giant flies under the radar of most Illinoisans, in part because it’s so new: It was spun off by Abbott Laboratories in 2013. With 29,000 employees worldwide, Abbvie has production facilities from Spain to Singapore, including two in Illinois: North Chicago and Lake County.
Advanced Filtration Systems Champaign
AFSI supplies liquid filters for companies like Caterpillar. In 2007, it expanded with a branch in the Czech Republic that serves four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Alton Steel Alton
Steel has been produced at this site for more than 100 years, mostly by Laclede Steel Company. In its heyday, it provided steel for the World Trade Center in 1967. Operations halted in 1998 and bankruptcy followed. Five years later, the mill got new owners and a new name.
Chicago Mailing Tube Chicago
Founded in 1902, this mailing containers company originally made snuff boxes, and it still holds several city licenses for delivery horses. About 60 people work there.
CSL Behring Kankakee
CSL Behring is the largest employer in Kankakee County, with some 1,100 employees. The Australian-based company, which makes plasma-derived and recombinant therapeutic products, has operations in 30 countries and traces its roots to Emil von Behring, who won the Nobel Prize in 1901.
E.H. Wachs Lincolnshire
Founded in Chicago in 1883, the company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of portable machines used to cut and bevel pipe. It has 170 employees at three sites.
Frantz Manufacturing Sterling
Sterling was once nicknamed “The Hardware Capital of the World” and Frantz was one of several major hardware manufacturers in this northeastern Illinois town. The conveyor system components and steel ball products factory, which now employs 95 workers, produced more than 1 million cots for the military during World War II.
Seventy-five miles southwest of Chicago is the biggest brickworks in the state, the last remnant of what used to be a thriving Chicago brick industry that grew after the Great Chicago Fire.
ITW, formerly Illinois Tool Works, is a sprawling $14 billion company with 40 divisions that makes plastic bag zippers in Ottawa, six-pack ringlets in Itasca, lab equipment in Lake Bluff and plastic clips in Frankfort.
Lyondell Basell Morris
Dutch firm Lyondell Basell Industries operates a 700-acre facility in Morris — one of the largest chemical processing plants in the Midwest. There they make ethylene, key in the production of plastic products like water bottles.
Maze Nails Peru
Samuel Maze ran a lumber yard in Peru and gave away zinc nails to promote the use of his cedar shingles. The nails caught on, and now Maze Nails is the largest manufacturer of specialty nails in the U.S., focusing on hot-dipped galvanized roofing nails.
Nalco Water Naperville
This water treatment systems company’s headquarters is in Naperville, but many of its 1,089 employees work in plants in Joliet, Elk Grove Village, Glenwood and Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood. Nalco says its products and services help save more than 170 billion gallons of water per year, equivalent to the annual drinking water needs of more than 580 million people.
Nu-Way Industries Des Plaines
Once a welding shop opened by a pair of brothers 50 years ago, NuWay — which makes metal parts, metal housings and electronic enclosures — employs 300 people at its state-of-the-art facility near O’Hare Airport.
Pacific Bearing Company (PBC Linear) Roscoe
PBC Linear, formerly known as the Pacific Bearing Company, was founded in 1983 with a single patent for self-lubricating, Teflon-lined bearings. It has since grown its stockpile and makes plain bearings, linear guides and other custom machined parts.
This family-run manufacturer most famous for tailgates and mining equipment manufacturing is celebrating its 49th year.
PMP Fermentation Products Peoria
PMP’s facility was originally a brewery until Prohibition laws shut it down in 1920. Premier Malt Products Co. later took over the site. The plant, now owned by a Japanese chemical company, makes sodium gluconate — a multipurpose product derived from corn syrup.
Pioneer Service Addison
Company president Aneesa Muthana started learning the family business at age 11 by working in her father’s shop. She became a partner of the Swiss machining parts manufacturer at 20 and president at 23.
The husband and wife team of Kenneth and Pamela Cooley started Shapemaster in 1990. Still family-owned, the plastic products manufacturer ships products worldwide from tiny Ogden, population 800.
Stepan Co. Northfield
Founded in 1932 by Alfred C. Stepan Jr., Stepan manufactures basic and intermediate chemicals, including surfactants (the stuff that makes soap bubbly). With more than 2,000 employees and 18 manufacturing locations worldwide, it is one of the largest surfactant manufacturers in the world.
Triton Industries Chicago
Founded in 1961, Triton introduced those diamond-shaped flip signs on the back of trucks designating whether they carry hazardous loads. In addition to doing custom sheet metal orders, the company makes components that go inside vending machines.
W.W. Grainger Chicago
William W. “Bill” Grainger founded a wholesale electric motor business in Chicago in 1927. Today, Grainger is a Fortune 500 industrial supplies and safety products company with a 600-branch network that spans North America, India, China and Panama.
Chicago Mailing Tube