Mayor Steve Connelly recently commemorated the expansion of the Hitachi automotive plant in Berea with Hitachi President Hideaki Seki as General Manager Joe Sairenji looked on.
Business is good in Berea as two local manufacturers have either expanded or are in the process of expanding their industrial facilities. In recent months, Novelis and Hitachi have worked on increasing the size of their operations and at least one of the companies is investing in new equipment.
Most recently, aluminum recycling giant Novelis announced plans for a $2.3 million enhancement of their Mayde Road facility. The company produces aluminum ingots out of recycled cans and other material, and it is investing to speed up processing time. Novelis Human Resources Director Monica Johnson noted that by adding a new truck scale and reconfiguring entrances from Mayde Road, the company can increase intake of recyclables.
“We have the [production] capacity, but in order to take advantage of that capacity, we have to increase our flow of goods,” Johnson said. “Right now, where the truckers are entering our property, there’s a bottleneck, so we’re going to expand so we can process more trucks in any given day by having an additional scale.” The change will allow the plant to increase production by 50 million pounds annually, officials said. Novelis will also be investing in additional fork trucks to unload material, and the company will be creating eight new jobs.
Berea City Councilman Jim Davis, who chairs the council’s Economic Development Committee, said the expansion at Novelis demonstrates the company’s continuing contribution to Berea’s economy. “By expanding their local facility, Novelis has shown its commitment to Berea and its local workforce. As a good corporate citizen, we are grateful for their continued confidence in the community,” Davis said.
City of Berea Business Development Director Danny Isaacs said the expansion at Novelis appears to be part of a very encouraging trend. “This fits into what’s going on in Berea overall,” Isaacs said. “Novelis is investing in their facility to increase their production capacity along with Hitachi, and these sorts of investments are the reasons Berea was ranked 32nd globally by Site Selection magazine for industrial growth. I’m appreciative that their organization continues to invest in Berea and its people, and we look forward to working with them on other future projects.”
Isaacs noted Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas was another local manufacturer that has made significant investments in its Berea operations. Hitachi expanded production capacity, built a corridor to connect the north and south plants, and added in-house dining options to accommodate its workforce. Human Resources Director Brian Fouch noted the improvements reflect the company’s commitment to both increased efficiency and the region. “This expansion is part of our overall strategy to become more efficient through improved process flow and to provide additional space for our current and future business growth. In addition, this expansion demonstrates our commitment to Berea and surrounding community,” Fouch said.
According to one recent report, Hitachi added approximately 200 jobs to its operation last year. Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW), meanwhile, reported they are gearing up to serve new clients, according company representative Cameron Sontag.
Berea Mayor Steve Connelly stated the reports of expansion portend good things for the city’s economic fortunes, especially at a time when competition for industrial employers is fierce. “To paraphrase an old aphorism, their investment is the sincerest form of flattery. At a time when every community is competing vigorously to attract manufacturing plants, Berea is fortunate to have existing companies willing to invest their own money in buildings and operations in ways to increase production and improve efficiency. These strategies will improve the companies’ bottom lines and will likely lead to more employment. It is clear that Berea is good for business, and business is good in Berea,” Connelly said.