SALEM, Ohio – Butech Bliss Inc.’s expansion to the former Columbus McKinnon building at 240 Pennsylvania Ave. in Salem is good news for the company and the city, officials say.
For Butech, the purchase of the 50,000-square-foot building provides a new location for its growing industrial rebuild operation while freeing up additional space at its main plant on Ellsworth Avenue.
For Salem, it means productive use of a building that’s been vacant for 18 months, along with the promise of new jobs there.
“We felt strongly that adding that building was the right move for Butech,” says Matt Joing, vice president of operations. “We were running out of room on Ellsworth Avenue.” The building is directly next to the former Seckley building, which Butech also owns.
Butech Bliss designs, engineers and manufactures large complex equipment used in heavy industry. While most of the company’s business is devoted to producing new machinery and processing lines, it’s also found success in reconditioning, rebuilding and extending the life of used equipments.
The plan is to move that portion of the business to the Pennsylvania Avenue location and continue to expand there. Both new and existing assembly equipment would relocate to the new site.
“We’ll design it, optimize it and have room to grow in that building,” Joing says. The company plans to start moving equipment to the new location by January. There are also plans to move Butech’s spare parts inventory into the space.
The former Columbus McKinnon building was listed for sale for $1.5 million. According to public records, Butech paid $1.25 million for the structure. The sale closed Sept. 16.
The acquisition caps an otherwise challenging year for manufacturers in the region, because most experienced a devastating slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joing says.
However, Butech managed to weather much of the downturn. Although the spring was difficult, business gained ground over the summer and early fall to the point where the company is on pace to nearly match the record sales Butech posted in 2019.
And, Joing says, the end of the year looks robust with new business leading into 2021. “There are still challenges, but I feel like we’re coming through it really well.”
Butech Executive Vice President Jock Buta says the expansion to the former Columbus McKinnon plant positions the manufacturer for a bright future.
“We have big plans for the operations moving into this space,” Buta says.
“Although there’s uncertainty in the market due to the pandemic, we felt this was the right time to position our company with the building capacity for not just today’s workload, but where we expect to be in three- to five years.”
Initially, the company had considered looking outside Salem to expand, but doing so would have brought its share of logistical challenges, Buta says.
Butech worked closely with the Salem Opportunity Development Center during the entire process, says Julie Needs, SOD Center executive director. “We thought it would be a perfect location for them,” she says.
A critical part of the project was securing state resources that will prove vital toward renovation of the building, according to Needs.
With the help of TeamNEO, the project was awarded a $100,000 JobsOhio revitalization grant that will be used to reconfigure the new space.
Needs says the expansion should create 11 jobs and retain another 270 at Butech.
More importantly, it revitalizes a property that’s been shuttered since Columbus McKinnon, a crane manufacturer, consolidated operations out of state and vacated its Columbiana County locations a year and a half ago.
“There were close to 80 people who worked there,” Needs says.
Fortunately, the SOD Center was able to help to connect most of them to new employers through job fairs and other employment networks, she says.
“Butech Bliss is an excellent example of a local company whose growth needs were able to be solved from within the community, locking in future tax revenue for the city and providing well-paying jobs for Salem’s citizens,” Needs says. “It opens up a lot of opportunity for them.”
Pictured: Butech makes and reconditions coil processing lines, shears, extrusion lines and rolling mill equipment.