Construction to begin June for Canadian manufacturer

Another foreign transplant auto parts producer is about to make the Dayton area its home.

Guelph, Ontario-based plastics producer Hematite’s new plant off Lau Parkway in Englewood will be the Canadian company’s U.S. headquarters, and the company expects sales growth from the site of $10 million to $28 million over three years.

Ferguson Construction will begin construction on the plant in about three weeks, according to the development director for the city of Englewood, Bill Singer. The site is east of Hoke Road just south of Interstate 70.

“They are shooting for June 6 for the groundbreaking,” Singer said.

On Tuesday, Montgomery County commissioners approved $400,000 to Englewood to assist in the building of of the plant.

Montgomery County leaders approved the funding — derived from county sales taxes — with the expectation that the company would employ at least 100 people. Singer has said he believes the expected jobs number is conservative.

“Over the next three years, I think, that’s the target,” Hematite Chief Operating Officer Jacques Nadeau said Wednesday. “Long-term, we would expect more (workers) in five to 10 years. There is room for expansion in that building. As business grows, we could add to the building.”

If the building process goes well, it should be finished by the end of November, Nadeau said. Early production could be happening in the early part of 2018.

The initial footprint on the 20-acre site the company is eyeing is 106,000 square feet. The largest the building could reach on that site would be 210,000 square feet, he said.

Hematite’s main customers are Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Ford and Honda. A Montgomery County location is ideal for reaching all of those customers, who have plants spread out over Toledo, Northern Kentucky, Michigan and central Ohio.

“It’s a strategic location,” Nadeau said of Englewood. “It’s a good location to serve all of those customers.”

Parts to be made in Englewood are plastic components for auto underbodies and acoustic interior parts.

Hematite parts are designed to reduce noise and what automakers call “coefficient of drag,” a measure of aerodynamic sleekness.

Employees will be hired with the help of Montgomery County. Some will be trained at existing company plants in Canada.

John Pavanel, Hematite president, told a committee of Montgomery County leaders a few weeks ago that the company’s preferred site on Lau has room for a second building — one that could process raw material.

“What this site gives is size and room,” Pavanel said at that meeting earlier in May.

Hematite’s investment comes at a crucial moment. Auto sales in the United States last year beat 2015’s record of 17.5 million by about 70,000 vehicles. But all major automakers reported weaker-than-expected April sales early this month, signaling what some say may be a softening in the market after years of growth.

In September 2016, Hematite locked out about 62 employees from its manufacturing facility in Guelph, Ontario for a little over a week. The lockout ended when members voted to accept a deal with the company, according to media reports in Canada.

In all, the County Commission Tuesday approved more than $1.1 million in total assistance to expanding companies, including the Hematite-Englewood project. More than 200 new Dayton-area jobs are expected to be created from those expansions.

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