July 28, 2008

Seneca Co. Firm Expands With $10M Investment

By Anonymous

Over the next several months, Fostoria-based Norton Manufacturing Company plans to quadruple the size of its facility. This major expansion is the result of new investment of approximately $10 million being placed into the business. This large capital expenditure is being done as part of an agreement involving Norton Manufacturing Company's acquisition by Japanese firm, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. The bulk of Norton Manufacturing's assets will be acquired by Sumitomo in October; Norton will be adding office and cafeteria space and bringing all of its crankshaft manufacturing equipment into a more modern facility, according to the company.

"It will be a positive [situation] because [Sumitomo] is a huge company and it wants to bring more jobs and more business to northwest Ohio," stated Les Lipski, chief financial officer, Norton Manufacturing.

The general contractor for the design / build project is MKK Technologies, Inc. The prime contractor is Fostoria-based Whitta Construction. According to Lipski, virtually all the subcontractors are locally hired as well.

New construction will be required for the expansion. Lipski explained that new truck docks and the cafeteria are substantially completed and the offices are currently under construction. At press time, the company planned to be finished with the plant and expects to be finished with the office by August.

Norton Manufacturing has an existing 54,000 square foot plant on Route 12 in Fostoria into which three existing facilities will be consolidated. The facility was built in 1987 and was originally just 27,000 square feet. An expansion was necessary in 1992 when new crankshaft contracts were awarded to Norton. According to Whitta, the pre-engineered metal structure is 200 feet wide with 50-foot spans and bays every 27 feet. The combination of metal wall panels and standing seam metal roof encloses the exterior. Planting of new trees and a landscaped exterior rest / break area a 100,000 square foot plant. The office was purchased in 1993 and the plant was purchased in 1995 for continued corporate expansion. The firm will add a 150,000 square foot plant, a 5,000 square foot cafeteria / locker room / restroom complex, and an 11,000 square foot office to the Route 12 facility, which is on a 14-acre site.

"The consolidation gets everybody together under one roof, so that enables us to gain efficiencies in the production but also bring the design engineers and other [personel] closer to the factory floor," Lipski added.

Currently, Norton Manufacturing performs specific manufacturing processes, such as induction hardening, at one of its plants and has to truck materials back and forth between two plants on certain production lines. The expansion will allow the company to keep the process in one plant and gain operating efficiencies, according to Lipski.

The project will also include new machinery and production- related equipment to assist production. For example, Norton Manufacturing is purchasing a Henry Filters brand hydromation / industrial filtration system from Bowling Green-based Durr Ecoclean.

"We'll have over half of the new facility empty, and we're actively quoting a lot of new business throughout the US and overseas, because we believe that there's so much potential in the market," Lipski stated. "So we plan on actively adding more machinery and equipment and jobs in the near future. Because we have no current contracts to fill that new space, but we're looking to add additional ones. We're actively quoting a lot of different jobs right now."

Norton Manufacturing Company, which has more than 300 employees, machines crankshafts for engines, pumps, and compressors. It works with forgings, castings, and billets to precision machine crankshafts in sizes up to six feet in length. Although most Norton crankshafts are produced for the automotive industry, according to the company, it produces cranks for farm equipment and aircraft engines as well.

Copyright Telex Communications, Inc. Jul 2008

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