Expansion Already Envisioned for Chill-Can Plant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The CEO of Joseph Co. International says the approximately 21 acres the company has acquired on the East Side to build a $20 million chill-can beverage and technology center is just the beginning.

“We’re already looking at other properties for expansion in the city of Youngstown,” said Mitchell Joseph, who owns the patent to the world’s first self-chilling beverage can and its accompanying technology. “We’ll continue to do research and development, as we have for the last 25 years, advancing military, advancing medicine and advancing cosmetics.”

Joseph Co. International, based in Irvine, Calif., plans to invest $20 million to build a “self-chill” beverage can and technology center on land bordered by Oak Street, the Madison Avenue Expressway, Fruit Street and Himrod Avenue. The campus would consist of at least four buildings devoted to plastics-injection molding operations, assembly, bottling, research and development, and distribution.

The project is expected to create 257 jobs over three years.

On Monday, officials broke ground on the new complex, reported first by The Business Journal last month. The groundbreaking ceremony occurred at 130 Lane Ave., the site where Joseph’s great-grandfather broke ground for his family’s business, Star Bottling Co., in 1921.


Breaking ground Monday are YSU President Jim Tressel, Matteo, Mitchell and Sue Joseph, and Youngstown Mayor John McNally.

“It’s sacred ground to us,” Joseph said. “To come back after almost 100 years on the same exact property and take technology that is revolutionary in the beverage industry, cosmetics and medicine, and bring it back to Youngstown is very gratifying to us.”

Joseph, whose family relocated from Youngstown to Columbus when he was six years old to run Star Bottling’s new plant in that market, acknowledged that Columbus was the first city the company considered for the new project.

However, Joseph credits Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel for redirecting his attention to Youngstown. “He said, ‘You know eventually you’ve got to come back here to where the story began,’ ” he recalled Tressel telling him. “He’s absolutely right.”

Joseph, who graduated from YSU in 1969, said the company has established a partnership with YSU that will allow internship opportunities for students, he noted.

“On this property there will be, during the summer, a lot of kids involved in manufacturing, engineering, production, marketing and advertising,” Joseph added.

Today, this area of the East Side has access to the region’s freeway system, which makes it possible for the company to distribute its products to the East Coast, as far west as Texas and to markets in Florida. All shipments to Europe will be moved out of Youngstown as well, Joseph said.

“This facility will produce high volumes and high speeds of the self-chilling can,” he said. The company’s production plant in California, for example, has the capacity to produce 20 million to 28 million self-chilling cans a year. The Youngstown campus is projected to produce one billion annually.

A consumer can activate the technology by twisting a small knob at the base of the can, which then triggers an apparatus that acts as a heat exchanger, Joseph said. Within a minute, the beverage turns cold.

The actual cans are produced for beverage companies elsewhere by manufacturers, and will be modified with the self-chilling technology in Youngstown. The self-chill mechanism’s plastic components will be manufactured at the plant.

What is most exiting is that the technology could also be transferred to military, medicine and applications in the cosmetics industry.

More than 100 officials, family and friends gathered on an unusually warm November morning to welcome Joseph back to the community.

“I think 250 jobs over a three-year period is a huge employment investment in the city,” Mayor John McNally said after he, Tressel, Joseph, and Joseph’s wife, Sue, and their son, Matteo, turned the first shovelful of dirt for the plant.

“The project itself is really going to redevelop a street that still has some residents, but is largely vacant property or houses that need to be torn down,” McNally said. “It is key that our residents – especially our East Side residents – see development on their side of town. That’s important.”

McNally said his family decades ago once owned a penny candy store at the corner of Lane Avenue and Oak Street, so there are many families that still have strong ties to this part of town. “It’s a historic street with some strong families, and we’re happy to have the Mitchell Joseph family back in Youngstown,” the mayor said.

All of the city’s major departments were involved in putting this project together because since it required the acquisition and rezoning of land on the East Side that was home to several residents, who were given relocation assistance.

The Mahoning County Land Bank was also instrumental in acquiring 85 parcels that total 10.6 acres. The land will be transferred to Joseph Co. International in the coming weeks.

“This was our largest land assembly to date,” said Debora Flora, Land Bank executive director. “We are better known for our work revitalizing neighborhoods. Thanks to Mitchell, we have now a living example of how land banks can assist with economic development.”

The entire process took about two years, Joseph says, and it was important to Joseph that the residents of the neighborhood were taken care of. “Some people have been here for 30 or 50 years and that was a big concern for us,” he said.

“We made sure they got the best offers that they normally would not get and that they could be gingerly relocated,” Joseph stated. “It was a tough project.”

Pictured above: Rendering of the $20 million project.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.