Henny Penny invests in first downtown Dayton office

New Dayton ‘satellite office’ will be in The Manhattan building

Preble County manufacturer Henny Penny is establishing a presence in downtown Dayton, leasing and preparing an office in The Manhattan building on East Third Street downtown.

In no way does the move represent a step away from the food service equipment manufacturer’s historic home in Eaton, where the company has more than 1,000 employees, Chairman and Chief Executive Rob Connelly said in a new interview with this news outlet.

Instead, this is a way to further attract good employees, he said. The office — temporarily leased on the second floor of The Manhattan at 601 E. Third while the permanent first floor space is prepared — will be home for 20 to 40 or more employees, among them software developers, electrical engineers and others.

“There is a certain talent we feel we would be able to attract and retain better by opening this satellite office,” Connelly said.

“We think it will be a really cool spot for people to work,” he added.

In its 65th year as a company, employee-owned Henny Penny enjoyed a record year in 2021. Said Connelly: “We’ve had an incredible journey. As good as it’s been, I think the best is still in front of us.”

Investing in facilities is not new for the company. Beginning in 2019, the company invested at least $16 million in its largest expansion project, a 150,000 square-foot expansion to its Preble County manufacturing facility and 60-acre campus off U.S. 35.

The new space added an initial 70 jobs and housed an Innovation Center for new product development, while expanding the company’s manufacturing footprint.

Eaton remains the company’s center of gravity, Connelly said.

However, the CEO sits on the board of advisors for Dayton software developer Mile Two, which controls three floors of The Manhattan and was an anchor tenant for the Jason Woodard-developed building.

Connelly said “brainstorming” sessions with Mile Two co-founder Jeff Graley opened his eyes to the possibilities in an area of downtown that has seen development of the Avant Garde (next to The Manhattan), the Steam Plant, the 444 Building, Tender Mercy cocktail bar and more.

That part of downtown is sometimes called the city’s “Innovation District.”

“We’re excited to be part of that eco-system,” Connelly said.

“There are things you can’t get in a suburban location,” he said. “There’s just a different feel that you get in an urban environment.”

The Dayton office will remain connected to Henny Penny’s Eaton campus, Connelly said. While a few people are in the office today, more employees are expected to be in place there in the next few months.

Henny Penny will share the Manhattan with government contracting firm Barbaricum, Mile Two, the Dayton Daily News, CoxNext and other businesses.

The Manhattan was built in 1912 before playing a role in the Manhattan project during World War II. Woodard Development has turned the building into a haven for technology businesses.

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