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About Us

James D. Gahwiler, the founder of Decatur Custom Tool, Inc., started his craft as a Tool & Die Journeyman Apprentice at Caterpillar, Inc. in Decatur, Illinois. After completing his training and years of service, he decided to try his hand as a supplier sales representative working for VR Wesson Company. This led him to Industrial Sales with a distribution company in St. Louis, Missouri. It was a small family owned business that promised him a partnership if he could achieve sales growth in his territory by a million dollars. Big money back then, but Jim did it, and they did not offer him a partnership. This was the beginning of what is now known as DCT Industrial Supply.
Moving back home to Decatur, Illinois in the spring of 1966, Jim started Decatur Custom Tool, Inc. in a rented building with one employee. Lots of hard work, he will say, made it possible. Struggling through several recessions and seeing businesses come and go from the State of Illinois were tough times for a young company. , all the long hours and hard work paid off, and DCT started to grow and expand. DCT/Precision was created as our manufacturing division which designs and manufacturers’ special indexable insert tooling, and the opening of a branch location in East Peoria, IL in 1990 and another location in Mt. Vernon, IL in 1993.
His children, brother and sister team, Julie and Jamie Gahwiler joined the company in the late 80s and early 90s. Working their way up from the bottom and learning all aspects of the family business was a requirement of Jim, who retired in 1999. Continuing their father’s unwavering commitment to preserving capital gives DCT the ability to grow and prosper through a changing market, by making strategic acquisitions and investing in new technology.
Jamie’s vision of growth looked toward adjacent states, and he found one, in particular, he knew his father would approve of in the St. Louis area. In the year 2000, DCT purchased M.A. Altrup Company to expand the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area. Not only was this DCT’s first acquisition but it was also the original company Jim Gahwiler had worked for and left to start DCT. Jim has said today “Never in a million years did I think something like this would happen.”
The acquisition trail continued for a while buying a local Decatur competitor, Miller Industrial in 2003 and merging them into our Decatur Headquarters. Miller Industrial gave DCT the MRO footprint we had been looking for, and the company was then renamed DCT Industrial Supply. In 2005, our third acquisition came along in Indianapolis, Indiana. J.L. Few and Associates was a perfect complement to DCT and expanded our reach into Central Indiana.
While acquiring acquisitions and growing, Julie’s vision of the future was technology. No longer would the company’s infrastructure ever be the same. Sourcing technology, software and creating a network to link all their locations together. Providing a secure platform to grow as the technology was changing. In 2005, DCT began using vending technology to consign inventory within the customer’s facility and even at the “point of use.” This technology is the future of DCT in the distribution of tooling, managing cost savings for the customer while collecting data to provide the customer valuable information.
Today DCT is a respected distribution company in the Industrial Tooling Industry. We have five locations and nearly 50 employees. Jim always said, “Your employees are your most important asset, treat them with respect and hire the very best.” This is still our philosophy today, and our DCT family of employees are committed every day to strengthening the DCT reputation that has been built on integrity, honesty, and loyalty.