ChemTool Inc. Founder Jim Athans isn’t one to retire. He’ll say he doesn’t have the brain for it, but perhaps it’s something else — he has too much vision.
Athans, son Dean, and son-in-law David Klesmith, formed the Elkhorn-based corporation Integrated Lubricants of Wisconsin. It was their company that purchased the former Cub Foods building in Beloit in April.
The building, located at 20 Park Ave., was vacated by Cub Foods in 2009. When the grocery store closed, the company released a statement saying, “In light of a difficult economic environment, Cub Foods has evaluated its stores and identified opportunities to strengthen its overall business. While the decision to close a store is always difficult — given the impact on associates and customers — it is guided by what is best for the company’s ongoing success and future growth.”
Due to a non-compete clause stating another grocery store could not occupy the space, the city had a difficult time marketing the building. The building sat vacant for seven years before the purchase.
The company is redoing the interior and exterior of the 60,000-square-foot property — adding trees and office space. A Labor Day deadline has been pushed back until Dec. 1 due to weather constraints.
Athans said the building will be marketed for medical equipment, pharmaceutical, electronics, aerospace and food industries upon completion.
“It’s not going to be heavy industry,” Athans said. “It’s too nice and too close to town.”
Athans founded ChemTool Inc., that, among other places, lists Rockton, Illinois as a base, in 1967. The company is a grease and lubricant manufacturer.
After many years, Athans decided to sell the company and “retire” in 2013. He sold the company to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.
“It was time. It was over 50 years, it was a great company and still is,” said Athans of selling the company.