A&S Fabricating Company in Livermore, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this month, was established in 1969 by Henry Sonner and Ronnie Ashby and is currently owned and run by Sonner's three daughters, Karen Whitaker, Sabrina Sonner and Venea Hounton.
A&S was founded by Sonner and Ashby while both men were working full time in the steel mills and aluminum plants in Indiana in 1968. They began designing and making steel toolboxes for pickup trucks and officially became business partners and established A&S in 1969.
"They learned their trade in the steel mills up in Indiana … my mom and him went up there and started having a family and that's where he worked," Sabrina Sonner said. "He saw the need in the aluminum industry … the industry was starting to grow in this area."
The business started in a small, one-room block building before eventually ending up at its current location off of U.S. 431.
The company was incorporated in 1972 after Ashby sold his portion of the business to Sonner to pursue a career in farming, according to Whitaker.
Henry Sonner retired in 1998 and passed in 2014, leaving the business with his three daughters.
"Every day we're thankful that our father had the ambition, and the drive and the determination to actually quit his job ... with three little girls at home and want to try to strike out on his own," Hounton said. "We're just really blessed."
According to Whitaker, the company has undergone 18 expansions over the past 50 years and currently employs about 25 people from McLean County and the surrounding area.
Whitaker said A&S provides custom metal fabrication and machine shop services in addition to assembly, contract repair, sandblasting and painting services. She said they ship their products all over the world.
Within recent years, A&S also became a self-certified Woman Owned Small Business through the Small Business Administration. The company also received the McLean County Industry of the year award from the McLean County Chamber of Commerce in 2017.
A&S General Manager Greg Gordon said he has enjoyed working for the three owners for the past three years.
"They have all worked here most of their lives and still strive to be as successful as their father was," Gordon said. "They do many great things for their community and they are a great success story on their own."