NASCAR’s Petty helps open Spectrum

Although the Spectrum Brands Global Auto Care center in Dayton has been preparing, packaging and shipping products for months, it got an official opening Thursday, with a little help from some friends — including a NASCAR legend.

Richard Petty has been associated with STP gas and oil treatment products for some 46 years.

“I’ve followed them around all over country, with different owners and all this stuff,” said the 80-year-old racing veteran, known today as NASCAR’s “ambassador in chief. “I’m finally glad that they found a home, OK?”

Wearing his trademark cowboy hat and dark sunglasses, Petty added with a smile: “I think they’ve been run out of everywhere else they’ve been.”

He added that he was confident the center would be good for the community.

Plenty of others shared that confidence at the center’s grand opening event on Concorde Drive within sight of the Dayton International Airport.

Thirteen months ago, the 570,000-square-foot center’s location was just a bare field, noted Ken Burns, vice president, operations for Spectrum Brands.

When Burns started searching for sites to build a new global auto care products distribution center more than a year ago, he zeroed in on his company’s center of customer gravity: Cincinnati and Southwestern Ohio.

That was when friends and associates pointed him to Dayton as a possible site — which led to an eventual phone call with Montgomery County’s development director, Erik Collins, who had heard that Burns was on the hunt for a site.

“And here we are today at this beautiful facility with over 400 people,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and chief exeucutive of the Dayton Development Coalition. “That’s the connection.”

The $33 million complex is much more than a warehouse. Spectrum Brands encompasses a number of recognizable household, living, garden, pet and auto-oriented brands: Black & Decker, Remington, Rayovac, Baldwin, STP, ArmorAll and many more.

Spectrum Brands Holdings bought the Armored AutoGroup from Avista Capital Partners for $1.4 billion in 2015. So the center north of National Road is focused mostly on consolidation, production and shipping of auto care products — A/C Pro, Tuff Stuff, Armor All and STP — but other brands will also find a place at the center.

“We now have our R&D facility here, all of our manufacturing here, and all of our distribution here,” Burns said Thursday.

The single site has made possible the closing or shrinking of company operations in Garland, Texas, Painesville and Mentor, Ohio, as well as the San Francisco, Calif. area.

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