Our Towns

Warehousing, Manufacturing Repurpose Austintown Industrial Buildings

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – In recent years, buildings along the industrial corridors of Austintown Township haven’t sat empty very long as more companies are making use of older structures that have the capacity and capabilities others lack.

“A lot of these buildings have heavy power,” says Jim Grantz, broker associate at Lewis Realty. “That’s difficult to get these days.”

Distribution and manufacturing space in the industrial sector is in high demand as evidenced by several transactions over the last year that indicate suppliers, manufacturers and distributors value the township as an important hub for their businesses.

Late last year, for example, Hynes Industries Inc. moved from its longtime home at 3760 Oakwood Ave. to new offices and manufacturing space at the former Wean United complex along Henricks Road. The company invested in new equipment and some renovations to accommodate the relocation.

“We consider Hynes as a business platform, a platform with a brand-new home on Henricks Road,” says Greg Gyllstrom, president and CEO of Hynes. “Like any move, it’s had its challenges, but I think we’re finally settled in. It’s a nice thing to repurpose an older building and it’s a great platform for the business.”

The move consolidated all of Hynes’ local operations – once spread over five sites – into the 291,000-square-foot building. Hynes manufactures flat wire, roll form shapes, slotted angle, and strip steel products that serve the truck/trailer and energy markets.

“Now, we’ve got a reasonably high bay and crane infrastructure to do this business,” Gyllstrom says. “We’re very fortunate.”

Gyllstrom says that most of the company’s business is derived through the truck and trailer market, manufacturing components for such customers as Wabash National Corp., one of the largest producers of commercial trucking equipment.

Hynes – which recently celebrated its 90th year in business – also manufactures components used in appliances, outdoor furniture, hardware, storage units and racking for solar energy panels.

Most recently, Hynes acquired American Roll Form Products in Painesville. The company now has manufacturing sites in Austintown, Painesville, Las Vegas, Nev., and Kokomo, Ind.

Lewis Realty’s Grantz says that Hynes’ move from Oakwood Avenue allows other manufacturers to consider that space for new operations.

The leasing agent has already leased 70,000 square feet of the Oakwood space to another manufacturer, Alloys Unlimited in Mineral Ridge, which was recently acquired by Ampco-Pittsburgh.

“They’re going to take 60% of the building and we’re working on a user for the balance of it,” Grantz says. “They liked it because of the heavy power and crane capacity.”

Other buildings along Meridian Road are being repurposed, Grantz notes.

The former 7-Up bottling operation on the northern section near the Interstate 680 interchange was recently sold to Cindlee Corp., and it’s expected that Youngstown Electrical Supply Co. will house some operations there. And, Ideal Store Fixtures, which supplies shelving and display cases for retailers, is relocating from its property on Meridian Road to another building just behind Leppo Equipment on the same corridor.

“There are a lot of things that can go into this region and we’re very competitive,” Grantz says. On average, leasing rates for industrial space is on the rise. “Prices have increased on a square-footage basis,” he says.

Although existing industrial space might prove inviting to a warehousing or manufacturing operation, there’s been very little new industrial construction over the last several years except for Penn-National Racing’s Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course just off state Route 46, reports the township zoning inspector, Darren Crivelli.

In 2013, the valuation of new industrial construction in the township hit $61.5 million, all of it related to the Hollywood Gaming project (See story page 16).

“Right now, there aren’t any permits on my desk for new industrial buildings,” Crivelli says. “It’s almost non-existent.”

The last major new industrial project occurred in 2010 with McHenry Industries’ construction of a $1.6 million plant at 85 Victoria Road. The company manufactures large display signs used by customers all across the country.

Meanwhile, companies that manufacture and supply components for the auto and truck industries are thriving in the industrial section of Austintown.

T&W Stamping, on Four Mile Run Road, manufactures oil pans for the heavy-duty truck market, while companies such as Comprehensive Logistics on Victoria Road, and Jamestown Industries Inc., on the corner of Meridian and Crum roads, have assembly and sequencing operations that support manufacturing operations at General Motors Co.’s Lordstown plant.

Jamestown Industries supplies front and rear fascia for the Chevrolet Cruze, GM’s popular small car produced at Lordstown.

“We’re working on the next generation of the Cruze,” says Sylvester Townsend, president of Jamestown Industries. “That should start in January, which should give us another three- to four-year run of this production.”

The Dayton-based company set up an operation to Austintown in 2001 after it had won the contract to supply fascia – the front and rear bumpers – to the Chevrolet Cavalier then built in Lordstown. Subsequently, Jamestown was awarded contracts for the Chevrolet Cobalt and it successfully bid the work for the Chevrolet Cruze.

The plant in Austintown is today Jamestown’s sole operation, Townsend says. A similar plant in Dayton supplied GM’s Moraine plant, but GM closed it in 2008, forcing Jamestown to do the same.

“This operation’s great,” Townsend says of Austintown. “It was tough getting through 2009 and 2010, like most companies, but we were able to and now we’re back to normal at full production.”

Jamestown runs three shifts at the Austintown plant and employs 62, says plant manager Clark Babb. The Austintown location fits perfectly with GM’s process since it’s within 20 miles of the Lordstown complex.

The front and rear bumpers are manufactured by Norplas Exteriors in Toledo and then shipped to Jamestown where they are sequenced in the very order they’ll be moved down the assembly line at Lordstown.

Lordstown broadcasts its build schedules directly to Jamestown eight hours before a part is installed on the assembly line, allowing the sequencing teams to match the rear and front bumpers precisely with the model slated for production.

“They’re producing 1,260 vehicles a day, so we’ve got to sequence 2,520 fascia,” Babb says.

Jamestown performs additional light assembly operations, such as affixing the Chevrolet bow-tie insignia as well as fog lamps or, depending on the model, another grill fitting to the front fascia. Then, the components are racked and prepared for shipping.

“Every part has a label, and we have to make sure every part passes continuity,” Babb says. A final scan on the parts is performed to make sure all of the required added content has been installed on the correct piece. “It ensures that every part is in the proper sequence,” he says.

Now, Jamestown is busy preparing the operation to supply the next generation Cruze, Babb says. “The transition is going very well,” he comments. “We’re ready for the non-sellable build runs.”

PICTURED: Workers at Jamestown Industries in Austintown.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.