Elkhart Plastics Inc. set to expand SB facility, plus add 50 jobs

A local plastics manufacturer is molding its workforce and headquarters in a very positive way.

On Tuesday, Elkhart Plastics, Inc., a leader in molded plastic parts for agriculture, marine, commercial and recreational vehicles, announced plans to invest $3.8 million in its South Bend plant located at 3300 N. Kenmore St. In addition to construction, it will add 50 new jobs, 20 of which will be filled by Feb. 2013.

The bulk of the first 20 positions will be production-based, including machine operators, testers and secondary finishers. Each job will pay between $10 and $20 an hour with benefits, including vacation and health insurance.

If everything goes according to plan, the remaining 30 positions will be gradually added through 2015.

"It’s been a long time coming. We had a lot of expansion through the 1990’s and the last six years have been a little different obviously. So this is an exciting time, not only for this facility, but our company overall."

The sudden surge follows the signing of a major three-year contract with an unnamed U.S. truck manufacturer. In ambiguous company code, executives say they're rotational molding machines will create plastic products to reduce emissions in diesel powered vehicles, while emitting more than $750,000 in added annual payroll and benefits.

"Every single manufacturing job supports 2.5 other jobs in the community. We think that's significant. So we're excited because these jobs pay well, they require a good skill; they hopefully give employees some stability,” Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County CEO Jeff Rea said.

Earlier this month, construction crews broke ground on a 25,000 sq. foot expansion to Elkhart Plastic Inc.’s existing 83,000 sq. foot South Bend facility. Completion is set for Feb. 2013, in line with the first hiring phase.

"We’re making fairly complex parts that have a higher selling price than most rotationally molded products would. Our plant output will more than double in terms of a production standpoint,” Elkhart Plastics Inc. CEO Jack Welter said.

The expansion did not come without lucrative financial incentives. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Elkhart Plastics up to $250,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $35,000 in training grants. The tax credits are performance-based, meaning if Hoosier employees are not hired, the company will not receive any payout.

"Things like this are good examples of where the city participated and helped make this project a reality, the state participated and helped make this project a reality and the company saw an opportunity to grow,” Rea added.

South Bend also offered a tax abatement to Elkhart Plastics to be doled-out over the next three to five years. However, when NewsCenter 16 contacted the city’s Community and Economic Development for monetary details, staff was no able to produce exact figures.

“We are pleased to assist Elkhart Plastics with the upcoming expansion of its manufacturing operations in South Bend,” South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg said in a written statement released Tuesday. “As a homegrown company with an international footprint, Elkhart Plastics’ choice to invest locally reinforces South Bend’s position as a center for precision manufacturing and our commitment to helping responsible employers grow, create jobs and expand opportunities in the local economy,” Buttigieg added.

So far this year, 18 St. Joseph County companies have verbally promised growth. If each business follows through on their word, more than 700 jobs and $125 million in capital investments will be created.

"We think we tell a great story to the rest of the country about the products that we make here, about the ease of making that product, about the cost of doing it, we think is very competitive here. Elkhart Plastics has been a strong employer in our region for a long time and the fact that they have decided to expand and grow their business is good thing for our local economy,” Rae concluded.

Founded in 1988, Elkhart Plastics currently employs 290 people at its three Indiana facilities: Middlebury, Elkhart and South Bend. It also operates two additional plants in Colorado and Washington.

Elkhart Plastics, Inc. is currently accepting applications, with two ways to apply.

1.) Contact Specialized Staffing Solutions at: (574) 234-9944
2.) Fill-out an application in person at Elkhart Plastics’ South Bend location.

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