As published in Toledo Business Journal - January 1, 2010

Whirlpool Corporation Clyde Division site

Whirlpool Corporation Clyde Division site

Whirlpool projects investing $186M+ in Sandusky Co.

Supplier Recruitment a strategic priority

Sandusky County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) has put significant effort into working with and supporting established manufacturers located throughout the county. This work is paying important dividends to both the manufacturers involved and to Sandusky County.

Sandusky County Manufacturers’ Roundtable

Now in its fourth year, a group of manufacturers in Sandusky County has been organized to provide benefits to the manufacturing community and to advancement of the economy in the area. The Sandusky County Manufacturers’ Roundtable has grown to over 30 participants and has scheduled quarterly meetings. The group works closely with SCEDC and its Executive Director, Kay E. Reiter.

At the beginning of each year, the participants of the Roundtable determine the priority initiatives on which the group will work. Some past initiatives include workforce training and development, industrial energy efficiency projects, economic development incentive programs for retention and expansion projects, and support for recruitment of suppliers and customers in need of new facility locations.

“The manufacturer participants of the Roundtable set the direction and programs for the year. This is not a situation where economic development is determining the work that will be done. We are there for support,” stated Reiter.

Each meeting is hosted by a participating manufacturer at their production facility. A plant tour typically follows the Roundtable meetings. The size of the host conference room assists in determining the number of attendees; these meetings are well attended and often filled to capacity.

“Roundtable participants have obtained benefits for their business from the program sessions conducted,” added Reiter. “Another important benefit is the contacts and networking members obtain by getting a chance to meet and work with other area manufacturers. The benefits from this type of association have been significant for participants.”

Participants have also shared that it is beneficial for them to see the operations of other area industrial companies during the plant tours.

“It is very beneficial to see how other manufacturers are addressing safety, quality, efficiency, and other issues. Many Roundtable participants take the attitude of how can they help other manufacturers address a problem. A participating manufacturer may have a specialist on their staff who could be of assistance. This is an important resource manufacturers get from their participation and the associations they make,” explained Jeff Woitha, president, Carbo Forge Inc. Woitha also currently serves as president of SCEDC.

The Roundtable is also providing important benefits to economic development efforts in Sandusky County. New project leads have been surfaced through this group and SCEDC has worked with participants to put new projects in place that have added new jobs in the county.

Tom Kern, CEO of Style Crest Products in Fremont and past SCEDC president, stated, “Any good economic development organization understands that taking care of and working closely with manufacturers already located in the area is important for growth. This has to be more than words and must be matched with actions. The Roundtable has helped us to do this.”

Supplier Recruitment

One of the initiatives that Roundtable participants set during 2009 was obtaining assistance from SCEDC for recruitment of selected suppliers and customers. The possibility of getting a supplier or a customer to locate a new facility in close proximity to their operations in Sandusky County offers opportunity to Roundtable participants to improve their bottom line.

A new supplier facility in close proximity offers manufacturers reductions to inbound logistics costs. Reduced inventory levels can also occur resulting in lower inventory carrying costs. Manufacturers have also learned that significant improvements to operations take place by having a supplier in close proximity.

A Roundtable session this past September was devoted to the Supplier Recruitment Program (SRP). “Several new supplier project leads resulted from this session,” stated Reiter.

SCEDC has set a five-year strategic plan with a number of key initiatives that will drive its efforts during the coming years. The organization has recently launched a capital campaign to fund its economic development efforts to bring new investment and new jobs to Sandusky County.

One of SCEDC’s strategic initiatives is the implementation of the Supplier Recruitment Program. This program – aimed at recruiting suppliers and customers of established businesses already located in the county – has been made a strategic priority. With this program, new project leads on which SCEDC can work come from professionals at businesses in the area. In addition, these business professionals play an important role in the recruiting process to win new facilities and jobs for Sandusky County.

“Our strategic plan for Supplier Recruitment works together with our efforts to support the Manufacturers’ Roundtable,” explained Reiter.

The Sandusky County Manufacturers’ Roundtable is an important ally to SCEDC’s strategic initiative to recruit suppliers and customers of established businesses already in the area to bring new facilities and new jobs to the county.

Whirlpool Projects

One of the Sandusky County manufacturers placing new investment in the area is Whirlpool Corporation – Clyde Division. SCEDC is continuing to work with the company to assist in the recruitment of major suppliers to locate production facilities in close proximity to the Clyde, Ohio operations.

In addition, Whirlpool Clyde is investing $175 million in its facility for a project that will include tooling, equipment, and facility changes. Depending on the economy and marketplace demand, Whirlpool expects to add approximately 90 to 100 new positions to the existing workforce of 2,500 at the plant.

According to Dinah Dwyer at Whirlpool Clyde, the Clyde Division portion of the $175 million investment began in mid-2009. The project will be completed in phases through 2010.

“Whirlpool is investing in innovation to help ensure that we remain competitive,” she stated. “For almost 60 years, the Clyde Division has had a longstanding reputation within Whirlpool for delivering on major projects. This investment is a tribute to the flexible, progressive, and lean efforts by the Clyde employees.”

Governor Ted Strickland shared his opinion of this Sandusky County business. He noted, “Ohio has been a proud partner with the Whirlpool Corporation for more than a half century, and the company’s investment in the city of Clyde is a testament to the strong work ethic and manufacturing skill found in the community.”

According to Whirlpool, the 2.3 million square foot Clyde plant is the largest automatic washer facility in the world.

Prior to becoming a Whirlpool facility, the plant made a wide range of products, from Elmore automobiles and Clydesdale fire trucks to church furniture, bicycles, weapons (for World War II), and porcelain signs.

When Whirlpool purchased the facility in 1952 from Clyde Porcelain Steel, it was just 250,000 square feet. Two years later, Whirlpool purchased the adjacent Bendix Corporation, which added an additional 170,000 square feet. With gradual expansions, the factory slowly grew to its current size including distribution centers.

A number of major suppliers have located manufacturing facilities in close proximity to Clyde as well. In 2005, Fisher & Paykel Laundry Manufacturing, Inc., a New Zealand company supplying Whirlpool, located its first United States plant in the city. Relocating from its closed Brisbane, Australia plant, the company leased a 100,000 square foot facility and invested $31 million in new equipment.

Whirlpool Clyde supplier, Revere Plastics, is also expanding its business on East Elm Street in Clyde by adding 50,400 square feet. Ground is currently being prepared for this project, which will invest approximately $11 million ($8.5 million in new equipment, $1.1 million in new inventory, and $1.5 million in real property).

Clyde City Council passed two ordinances in early October for the project. One of the ordinances is for a 10-year property tax abatement.

The project will enable Revere to retain 443 jobs. The company also plans to add 25 new jobs as a result of its capital investment.

Revere Plastics produces injection-molded plastic parts used in Whirlpool washing machines. The expansion and new equipment is designed to also supply parts for a new Whirlpool product line.

Construction has also taken place on another project supporting Whirlpool operations. Under the leadership of Kern, Highland Acres Development, LLC has constructed a 130,000 square foot facility that is currently being used for the warehousing of raw materials for Whirlpool’s Clyde facility. The facility opened in August 2009. In 2008, KF Ventures Ltd. constructed a 145,000 square foot facility to support Whirlpool’s operations. Kern is the general partner for both of these real estate development companies.

SCEDC continues to work closely with Whirlpool Clyde to support new investment projects for suppliers to this large Sandusky County manufacturing operation. Supplier Recruitment has been important for improving Whirlpool’s operations and its profitability. At the same time, Sandusky County has obtained significant new investment and jobs from supplier facilities put in place.