Economic Development

Merit Tool is an overlooked industrial gem in Delaware County

DELAWARE COUNTY, Indiana – For 35 years, Merit Tool & Mfg. has been a hidden gem among local machine shops. And now the firm, located in Eaton, Indiana, is growing.

With support from the Delaware County commissioners and Delaware County Economic Development, Merit Tool is expanding again. The company, which provides custom machined tooling, gauging, detail parts and assemblies, is purchasing a Vertical Machining Center, a type of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) controller for milling, drilling, tapping and boring. The piece of equipment, which represents an investment of nearly $140,000, will enable Merit to finish a project for a current customer and offer more new machining work for others.

Merit Tool hopes to add two employees to its 13-person workforce to operate this new machinery.

Founded in 1987 as Jack R. Reber Inc., by Jack Reber and his son Phil Reber, Merit Tool has steadily grown and serves a diverse customer base beyond the Midwest that reaches from coast to coast. Phil Reber assumed ownership and has served as company president since 2000 and was joined by his son Andrew Reber in 2017 in the business. They are 3rd and 4th generation toolmakers, respectively.

The town of Eaton and the Delaware County commissioners have worked to help Merit Tool grow in its Eaton location. Some of the company’s recent growth followed its 2017 purchase of the defunct Eaton Community Center, which was built in 1936 as a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project. The company invested $25,000 in the building, which is now additional operating space for the company. In that project, Merit created three new jobs, added $156,000 in machinery and got the building back on property tax rolls.

Merit Tool supplies custom tooling to a wide range of industrial customers, from utility equipment makers to food processing equipment manufacturers. The company’s products include custom machined tooling and low-volume after-market industrial parts.

Like many others, the company saw its business affected early in the COVID pandemic but has been extremely busy since the middle of 2021.

Phil Reber gives credit to the Delaware County commissioners, Delaware County Economic Development and the town of Eaton for its support.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Reber said about Delaware County officials. “They do a great job in facilitating local business and government entities to come together and accomplish tax abatement and assistance, supplying answers of what needs to be done and to provide support for local businesses to maintain and develop employment opportunities for the local community.”

About the town of Eaton, Reber said, “The town has been a great place to do business. It’s a great little community that a lot of people in Delaware County don’t know about.”

County Commissioner President Sherry Riggin said: “The six towns in Delaware County are the backbones of our rural landscape. It is important that both the towns and county continue to support businesses like Merit Tool to expand, grow and provide well-paying employment opportunities. Knowing that a great family business like Merit Tool is headquartered in the town of Eaton, Indiana is a wonderful thing.”

Eaton Town Board President Daniel Blankinship said, “The town board was delighted to learn that Merit Tool will continue to add and update the machinery at their facility. We’re proud of the jobs they provide in our community and they always keep their buildings and grounds looking good. We’ll always do what we can to ensure Merit Tool knows that the town of Eaton sincerely appreciates their continued investment.”

Brad Bookout, Director of Delaware County Economic & Municipal Affairs, said, “Working with Phil Reber over the years on all the Merit Tool expansions has been a wonderful experience. Phil and his family care deeply about the community as well as providing great products for their customers. I’m elated so see Merit Tool’s latest equipment expansion and I look forward to working with them again in the years to come.”

About Delaware County Economic Development
Dynamic and forward-thinking economic development is the specialty of Delaware County, Indiana. In 2015 the Delaware County Commissioners privatized the County’s economic development activities. Since that time, the County has developed its own business retention and expansion programs that are in constant contact with the multitude of industry within the County. In addition, efforts to identify and attract various suitable industry throughout the world are undertaken on an annual basis. For more information, contact Brad Bookout at

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