A business founded in the 1920s is closing its doors.

Today is the last day of operation for Modern Machine Shop Inc., 123 N. Hazel St.

Its closure comes after owner Manny Mechalas died in May and orders have fallen off due to the economy. Mechalas owned and operated Modern Machine Shop since 1972.

It specialized in vacuum operated bag filling machines, in addition to performing industrial maintenance and electric motor repair.

At one time the business had about 80 employees. Seven employees remain today.

Mechalas took over the business from Clarence Carter. The present building was constructed in 1924.

“It’s been an icon in Danville forever,” said operation manager Chuck Gutterridge, whose wife, Susan, is business vice president and the daughter of Mechalas.

“It’s one of the last machine shops done by hand,” Gutterridge added.

In 1978, the business began manufacturing new equipment used to fill and seal bags used for packing flour, starch, polyvinyl chloride (used in making plastics), insecticides and other products. The seals prevented insect and vermin infestation and product loss through spillage and pilferage.

The business also performed work on fans, blowers, water pumps and other items.

With the big factories gone, the larger projects went with them.

“The economy put us in a lull point. We were caught between getting our machining and part orders,” Gutterridge said.

He said today will be spent finishing up what little work is left.

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