Economic Development

Acquisition by Canadian Company Keeps Fairfield Machine Operating

LISBON, Ohio — With help from the Columbiana County Port Authority, a long-time Columbiana manufacturer will be able to continue operations after being acquired Oct. 1 by a Canadian company.

The acquisition of Fairfield Machine Co., 1143 Lower Elkton Road, by the Saskatchewan firm of Rockford Engineering Works Ltd. was announced Monday evening by the port authority’s executive director, Penny Traina, during the regular meeting of the board. Terms were not disclosed.

Traina and fiscal officer Tad Herold have been working with Fairfield Machine and its president, Dave MacNeil, for at least two years, after the port authority was notified the company was searching for a buyer which would enable it to continue operating, Traina said.

In addition to assisting Fairfield Machine look at its business plan, Traina said they also sought funding for the company from the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, or OMEGA, but said the company was ultimately able to obtain its own bank funding.

With the acquisition by 85-year-old Rockford Engineering Works, Fairfield Machine is able to retain 11 full-time jobs, four part-time jobs and hire one additional employee, according to Traina.

“They have re-established previous relationships with local companies and are looking forward to being a stronger presence in the local economy. Fairfield is also quoting work domestically and internationally and is optimistic about closing projects in the upcoming months,” Traina said. “It was a long process and we want to congratulate them.”

In an Oct. 1 press release from Rockford Engineering distributed by Traina during the meeting, it was noted that Fairfield Machine Co. has a “rich, 65-year history” designing, supplying and rebuilding pipe, bar and billet processing and handling equipment.

Rockford’s experience and strong engineering background in the tube and pipe industry, coupled with MacNeil’s sales and heavy equipment knowledge, “will carry Fairfield’s legacy of being a strong leader in the design and supply of tube and pipe equipment well into the future,” the company said.

The release went on to say MacNeil “will ensure the company’s vision and direction continues along with developing synergies between” the two companies.

“They would like to thank all local businesses and government organizations for their support and look forward to a great future,” Traina told the board.

Also reported by Traina Monday was a new partnership with OMEGA allowing the Port Authority to become a member of the Brownfield Coalition led by the agency.

The coalition intends to apply for a $600,000 brownfield assessment grant from the Environmental Protection Agency , which Traina said is the maximum amount that can be sought. The funding would be used to identify and assess brownfield sites in the county and plan for their future redevelopment.

A brownfield is a former industrial or commercial site where possible environmental contamination could affect its future use, and Traina said the EPA grant “will support the long-term economic well-being of our region and encourage reinvestment and economic development opportunities.”

Asked how many brownfields currently have been identified in the county, Traina was not immediately certain but said the former Dacar site and the former site of East Junior High School, both in the East End of East Liverpool, are considered such. Also being looked at as a possible brownfield is the former Riverview Florist property in East Liverpool, she added.

The grant application is due Dec. 3, with announcement of the funding award anticipated by the second quarter of 2020.

Also Monday, the board voted unanimously, with Secretary Nick Amato voting by teleconference call, for resolutions renewing lease of space in the Port Authority building by the Community Action Agency.

Approved was lease of 4,423 square feet of the bottom level of the building for the CAA’s office space at $3,824.01 per month, an increase of $93.27 per month.

Also approved was lease of 2,577 square feet, also in the bottom level, for the food bank/pantry at $2,174.86 per month, an increase of $32.14 monthly.

Pictured at top: Interior of Fairfield Machine Co. plant.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.