LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The factory has been in operation for just a month, but M&M Industries’ new plant here already has designs on a 78,000 square-foot expansion in 2022.
“What you see is about 35% of what this plant will produce,” says M&M President and CEO Glenn Morris, as he gestures to seven new bright green plastics-injection production lines that began operating several weeks ago. “We’ve got two more presses coming in January,” he says.
The expansion will be mostly used for storage and distribution, but it would free up space for the installation of additional manufacturing presses in the main facility, Morris says. The existing plant encompasses 81,000 square feet and the new building is on order.
Once the project is fully built out over the next five years, M&M expects its investment in the new operation to be between $30 million and $40 million, he says.
Morris and other company executives joined officials from the village of Lordstown, guests, and some of the Mahoning Valley’s business community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the plant Wednesday morning.
M&M Industries, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., purchased the former Magna seating plant in the Lordstown Industrial Park along Tod Avenue after that company closed its operations in 2019. That year, General Motors discontinued production of the Chevrolet Cruze and shut its Lordstown Assembly plant; Magna manufactured seating systems for that vehicle.
M&M is in a completely different business. The company manufactures heavy-duty plastic pails that are used in the chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food industries, says plant manager Steve Dines. “It’s not just a typical bucket,” he says.
Between 15 and 17 are employed at the plant now, Dines says. As production ramps up, that number could be as high as 35 by the end of November and grow to more than 100 within five years.
Dines says the new machines are custom-designed for the company by Engel, an equipment manufacturer based in Austria. “When it comes to injection molders, they don’t get any better than this,” he says. “The idea was that if we’re going to do a plant like this, it’s going to be world class.”
A critical piece of the project is completing a rail spur at the rear of the property that ties in with the Norfolk Southern Railway, Dines says. “That should be completed by the end of November,” he says.
Rail access is vital to the plant, added M&M’s CEO Morris, since the company receives shipments of plastic resin from petrochemical plants in Texas and Canada. “We can’t run a plant effectively without rail,” he says.
The Lordstown plant is the company’s fourth manufacturing plant, Morris says. M&M operates two facilities in Chattanooga and one in Phoenix, Ariz.
Morris said the company was scouting other areas to put the plant, but noted the Lordstown site provided all of the attributes the operation needed. Morris also said that he was impressed with the community, public officials and business organizations such as the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
He related a story about attending a meeting with school board members who all voiced concerns over the future of their children and how much they cared for their community.
“Everything about this town lit up for me,” he told guests during the ceremony Wednesday. “When I walked out of that meeting I said ‘I don’t want to be here, I have to be here.’”
To demonstrate M&M’s commitment to the village, Morris said that the company would donate $25,000 toward the purchase of a new police vehicle, which costs about $50,000.
He challenged other businesses in Lordstown to do the same and match M&M’s gift. “I’d like to respectfully ask that those businesses do everything they can to match the other $25,000 so that this police car gets bought during the first quarter of 2022,” he told the crowd.
Mayor Arno Hill said the project brings an added lift to an already vibrant area of the Mahoning Valley, citing TJX HomeGoods new distribution center, the ongoing work at Ultium Cells’ $2.3 billion electric vehicle production plant, and optimism for growth at Lordstown Motors.
“It’s an exciting day, it’s a good company,” he says of M&M. “They’ve done everything they said they would do.”
Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, says she’s encouraged by the company’s potential for growth in Lordstown. “We’re really excited about today and proud to be part of the process that attracted M&M to the Valley,” she says. “It was a collaborative and rewarding experience.”
Pictured at top: M&M President and CEO Glenn Morris says M&M plans to expand its Lordstown plant in 2022.