David Newman peers through a fitting joined by one of his company’s high-tech gaskets. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

$4M manufacturing expansion hinges on Lebanon city property sale

After a work session with David W.J. Newman, president of Newman Sanitary Gasket, Lebanon City Council gave tentative approval last month for sale of the triangle of land left next to the company complex when Neil Armstrong Way was extended to Ohio 63.

“My dad started the business in 1973 in my grandmother’s basement,” Newman said during the work session. “We’ve been in Lebanon 46 years and we’d love to keep it that way.”

Newman plans to move a liquid-nitrogen tank currently located near the back of the company’s 28,800-square-foot complex on Ohio 63 to the city property to make room for a 20,000-square-foot expansion or more. A traffic study was done to ensure trucks delivering the liquid nitrogen won’t cause gridlock.

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The new $5.6 million section of Armstrong Way in Lebanon opened in October 2014. New homes have since been built along the new stretch of road and an assisted-living center is in development. Plans for Lebanon Ford or a shopping center to move to the corner across from Newman have fallen through.

During the December council work session, Mayor Amy Brewer and Councilwoman Wendy Monroe expressed support for the Newman expansion and use of residual land from the road project.

“I was really happy that that little sliver is what you need,” Monroe said.

City Manager Scott Brunka plans to bring legislation back to council, setting the stage for the sale, after completing a summary appraisal of the land estimated to be worth about $9,000.

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“We are excited to work with them in support of their building expansion plans,” Brunka said in an email last week.

Today Newman employs 60 workers in Lebanon and expects to add at least one worker this year.

Begun by the late David William Newman in 1973, the company last year reported $10 million in sales of gaskets, O-rings and diaphragms. Daughter Betsy Newman is company vice president.

Originally a distributor of gaskets for use with dairy equipment in cafeterias, Newman now develops, produces and distributes to a worldwide clientele including pharmaceutical, dairy and other food industries.

“We sell these throughout the world,” said Cor Groeneweg, business development director at Newman.

Newman moved into the original 8,000-square-foot building, formerly the VFW hall in Lebanon, in 1980, and has completed a series of expansions and equipment additions in response to changes in their markets and customer needs.

“The shop kind of steers as the requests come in,” Newman said.

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Their latest product is a gasket with a radio-frequency identification chip, enabling “traceability,” verification and identification of the part with a special reader or other digital devices.

Newman looks for the technology to be attractive to pharamceutical companies expected to meet Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Pharmacopia standards, as well as other industries based on processes utilizing in high-purity processing pipe.

The expansion would enable Newman to move in new molding and extrusion equipment and make other improvements, including new and improved “clean” rooms and shortening the distance liquid hydrogen needs to travel through the plant with installation of the new tank.

“We’ve been around the longest when it comes to gasket companies,” Newman said. “We’re just running out of space.”

Work could begin this spring and the expansion be in use late in 2020, Newman said.

“I’m at the speed of everyone else,” he said.

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