Franklin County businesses honored at appreciation dinner

 

by: Jennifer Fitch, Herald Mail

SHADY GROVE, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Area Development Corp. recognized Johnnies Inc., Ulta Beauty’s distribution center and James S. Junkin with awards Thursday night.

The development corporation hosted its 31st annual industry-appreciation dinner in front of a capacity crowd at Green Grove Gardens.

With 40 employees and multiple locations, family-owned Johnnies Inc. was named the organization’s Small Business of the Year.

The business supplies restaurants with bulk supplies, and has a pair of cash-and-carry sites for walk-in customers.

Its support of civic and nonprofit organizations includes the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, Rotary Club of Chambersburg (Pa.) and Occupational Services Inc. The average tenure of its employees is 24 years.

God “continues to shower our community with blessings beyond belief,” representative Rod Hocker said.

The Ulta Beauty distribution center in Chambersburg is the 2017 Large Business of the Year.

Six hundred employees there support Ulta Beauty’s 1,000 retail stores, each of which sells cosmetics, hair-care products and fragrances.

The distribution center ships 100 million units per year to retail stores.

Bill Boltz, the distribution center’s director, recognized the center’s team members, in part for their charitable giving and service to the community.

The development corporation selected James S. “Jim” Junkin, of Willow Hill, Pa., as the 25th recipient of its Zane A. Miller Award. which recognizes contributions in business, civic commitment and volunteerism.

Junkin has been active in family farming since 1997. The nomination recognized his crop- and livestock-management techniques, as well as his advocacy for continuing education.

Junkin has served as board president for the Fannett-Metal School District, president of the Franklin County Farm Bureau and vice president of the development corporation. He also is involved with the Metal Volunteer Fire Co. and Franklin Learning Center.

“This man gives incredibly of his time and talents,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the development corporation.

Junkin said he tries to surround himself with good people.

“Truly, I’m extremely humbled and honored with this award,” he said.

Chambersburg welcomes new welding training center

By John Irwin

Posted Aug 24, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Franklin County is now home to the world’s first global welding and training center and certification school, sending trained professionals all over the globe.

The Franklin County Area Development Corporation and Phenomenal Industries Inc. hosted a ribbon cutting for the Welding Training Center on Thursday morning in Greene Township.

“We are very excited to be here, it’s been a very long journey,” said Stefan Takac president of Phenomenal Industries, which started in 1985 in Czechoslovakia. “When we were making the decision where to locate the facility, we had proposals from many other states, but we picked this location because we have many friends here and it’s in the center of an industrial hub,” said Takac. “I really think that our facility on the east coast is in a phenomenal location.”

The new 10,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility features a 40-seat classroom for lectures and instructor-driven learning as well as 20 welding booths that will provide hands-on learning for the students as well as the tools and environment for craftsman to succeed.

Since its inception, the Slovakian-based corporation has been dedicated to consistently providing custom welding training programs, qualification testing and providing skilled laborers worldwide.

Since the groundbreaking in July 2016, the facility on Opportunity Avenue in the Cumberland Valley business park has grown to be a “phenomenal building,” according to L. Michael Ross, president of the FCADC.

“We have an economy here in Franklin County that is growing, and we are fortunate that we still make things in our part of the world,” Ross said. “We have companies here in Franklin County such as Volvo Equipment, Manitowoc Crane Group, JLG, Olympic Steel, Bri-Mar Manufacturing, CAM Superline and Johnson Controls. There is a conglomerate of manufacturing facilities here in Franklin County and the area and the one need that is consistent among all of them is that they are all looking for welders.”

According to Ross, the project had its “genesis” about three years ago when a group from Manitowoc came to him and asked that the FCADC think about developing a welding training center.

“The short story is, we are here today addressing that need and we are very excited about the success of this operation,” Ross added.

Contact John Irwin at jirwin@therecordherald.com or at 717-762-2151.

Local Manufacturers see Rebound

Chambersburg Public OpinionPublished 5:45 p.m. ET Aug. 14, 2017

 

CHAMBERSBURG — The local factories that make road rollers, lifts and cranes are seeing brighter prospects.

Their recent financial reports offer hope for more local manufacturing jobs in the near future. Also looming in the background are expectations for a major infrastructure investment from the federal government.

“We’re seeing a rebound, albeit, I think it will be a bigger rebound when we see a federal bill investing in infrastructure – transportation or telecommunications or utilities,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. “That will really create a boon for Volvo, JLG and Manitowoc. This year has been better than the last several years.”

Volvo Construction Equipment in Shippensburg makes machines that build roads. JLG Industries in McConnellsburg makes machines that lift people and materials. Manitowoc Co. in Shady Grove makes cranes for heavy construction.

Their most recent financial reports foreshadow an improving economy.

That’s good news for the community and the thousands of local workers linked to the cyclical nature of the construction industry. Manufacturing jobs pay good wages. A manufacturing job generates three other jobs in the economy, according to the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

The economy of the eight-county region of south-central Pennsylvania, including Franklin County, relies heavily on manufacturing. Manufacturing has the greatest economic impact on the region’s economy, according to SCPaWorks, the South Central Workforce Investment Board that focuses on regional workforce issues. Workers likely are commuting into the region to work for manufacturers.

“We feel very good right now about what is taking place in Franklin County and throughout the region,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of economic development now. I think we’re in a turnaround.”

The FCADC is fielding inquiries at a pre-recession level, according to Ross. Banks are lending money, and real estate agents are showing commercial properties.

The Associated General Contractors of America, however, is concerned about the government’s most recent numbers on construction spending. Public-sector spending on construction declined from May to June.

“There has been a steep decline in public investment in nearly all types of construction over the past year,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Private nonresidential construction is still rising overall, but generally at slower rates than was occurring a few months ago.”

Association officials urged Congress and President Trump to fund upgrades to the nation’s aging infrastructure. The investment would protect against further deterioration of the nation’s public works and offset a slackening demand for construction.

 

“Washington officials need to act quickly to rebuild our public works before bad roads, unclean water and unreliable power systems begin to serve as a drag on broader economic growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

Joey Brown, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, did not indicate when Congress might act. Shuster, chairman of the House transportation committee, represents Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District, including Franklin County.

“During this Congress, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has held hearings on opportunities to reform and invest in the nation’s infrastructure, and Chairman Shuster is currently working with the Trump administration to craft an expansive infrastructure package that will include all the transportation modes to build a modern, 21st century infrastructure system, including an effort to reform and modernize the FAA, the 21st Century AIRR Act,” Brown said.

Improving the nation’s infrastructure has been one of Shuster’s top priorities, he said.

A local factory supplying parts to original equipment manufacturers has already taken the plunge.

Vetter Forks Inc. has moved to a larger location and bought its own building. The German-based company makes steel forks for forklifts.

“They have a solid foothold in their industry,” Ross said. “This is another arrangement where the supply chain for Volvo and JLG is a driving factor for them to be in the U.S. and specifically here.”

Vetter recently purchased 1711 Opportunity Ave. from FCADC for $1.8 million, Ross said. The building in the Cumberland Valley Business Park had been empty for more than a year after the bankruptcy of Edge Rubber.

Vetter in 2014 leased space at 5785 Sunset Pike to be closer to its customers, Ross said. The plant employed nine people. At its new location, Vetter’s employment is expected to rise to 30 in 12 to 14 months.

“Sales are up,” Ross said. “They have more confidence in the future. It was more optimism before.”

Their customers’ business is improving and their orders were increasing, according to Ross.

Here’s the financial outlook in a nutshell from major local manufacturers as taken from their most recent quarterly reports:

  • Volvo CE reported that quarterly sales increased by more than a third and orders for equipment rose by 54 percent. Demand increased in most major markets – China up 65 percent, Europe up 14 percent, North and South America both up 4 percent. There was a clear recovery in mining in many parts of the world.
  • Oskosh Corp., the parent of JLG Industries, reported that sales of access equipment increased about 3 percent from a year ago, primarily because of more sales of aerial work platforms. Oshkosh President and CEO Wilson R. Jones said the results were “stronger than expected.” The company anticipates delivering higher earnings for investors.
  • Orders improved 9 percent for the Manitowoc Co. Inc., although net sales were off 16 percent compared to a year earlier. The company shipped fewer crawler cranes in the Americas and fewer rough-terrain cranes, primarily in the Americas and the Middle East, mainly due to continued weak demand in oil and gas market. Both cranes are made in Shady Grove. The company recently moved its crawler crane production there.

“Considering our year-to-date performance and future market outlook, we have improved our full year 2017 guidance,” said Manitowoc President and CEO Barry L. Pennypacker. “This underscores that our team can deliver improved results using the principles of The Manitowoc Way. The relocation of our crawler crane production is complete, on time and under budget.

“In the second-quarter we have seen order improvement in most product categories except lattice boom crawler cranes. We have experienced pockets of improved demand in specific markets like the Permian and Eagle Ford basins in (Texas) North America. European markets continue to experience moderate growth, mainly in residential and non-residential construction markets.”

 

“Cautiously optimistic” Pennypacker said Manitowoc is positioned to achieve double-digit operating margins by 2020 and to become “the leading global crane company” as the market recovers.

Industry giant Caterpillar recently raised its expectations for the year. Annual sales for the maker of construction equipment should end at more than 6 percent above its original outlook.

Although jobs in manufacturing are declining in the region, the regional manufacturing employment remains 53 percent above the national average, according to SCPaWorks. And during the economic slump, manufacturing layoffs have accounted for 14 percent of unemployment, much higher that the state average (8 percent.)

As a whole the counties of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lebanon, Perry and York have seen job growth in health services and warehousing/transportation.

The region has more jobs than prospective workers. The eight counties currently have 55,000 job openings with just 30,000 people unemployed, according to Ross.

Jim Hook, 717-262-4759

Warehouses, health care drive local economic growth

Jim Hook , Published 11:04 a.m. ET July 3, 2017 | Updated 1:33 p.m. ET July 3, 2017

CHAMBERSBURG – Franklin County is home to more trucks and more elderly.

The growth of jobs in warehousing and in health care is assured for the immediate future. Warehousing/transportation has been fastest growing sector of the county economy. Summit Health recently surpassed Letterkenny Army Depot as the county’s largest employer.

The nation’s love of buying online is driving the construction of big box warehouses along Interstate 81, the main truck route to the Northeast. About 12 percent of the nation’s economy travels I-81. Franklin County is within a day’s drive of half the population of North America.

“As we move more retail into warehouses you’re going to see more pressure on I-81,” said Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation. “The biggest infrastructure challenge we have is I-81. We’ve got to get to six lanes, and we can’t get there fast enough.”

About 8 million square feet of distribution warehousing is on the drawing board for I-81 from Greencastle to Shippensburg. A decade ago the county had just 11 million square feet of warehousing.

The planned warehouses would add another 1,600 daily truck trips to I-81, according to industry standards. About 14,000 trucks a day currently use the highway through the county, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The other growth sector of the county economy is health care.

“We have a naturally aging population in Pennsylvania,” Ross said. “Because we don’t tax retirement income, we are a haven for beltway retirees. The aging population will continue to grow.”

Summit Health, owner of the two hospitals in the county, broadened its plans for a lot at Interstate 81 Exit 3 (U.S. 11).

“We originally planned to place an urgent care in Greencastle,” spokeswoman Allison Schuchart said. “We decided we want to plan a facility similar to the Waynesboro Medical Office Building so we can provide convenient, accessible health care options to the Greencastle and northern Washington County communities.”

Construction should begin in the late summer or early fall, she said. Staffing at the Greencastle Medical Office Building will depend on the services offered. Summit Health has yet to decide what services will be offered.

Intermodal Park, formerly Antrim Commons. Blaise Alexander Chevrolet Volvo is also building in the park. What will be one of the area’s largest car dealerships is to open before the end of the year.

Three warehouses, averaging 1 million square feet each, have approvals for construction in the park.

Ten miles to the north, WCN Properties has begun construction on a 370,000-square-foot warehouse on WCN Drive. Plans are pending for a 725,000-square-foot warehouse across the street.

Drive another 12 miles north, three more major big boxes are approved to put 2.7 million square feet under roof in the United Business Park near Shippensburg.

The county currently has an unemployment rate of about 5 percent, a number that Ross considers to be full employment.

With thousands of warehouse jobs to be filled, where is the workforce coming from?

“It’s going to be a numbers problem for the region,” Ross said. “We’re growing, and we’re essentially at full employment now. The opioid issue affects those who are unemployed and affects their employability. That’s a challenge we have to address.”

Kurt Fuellhart and Paul Marr of Shippensburg University cautioned in their 2006 warehouse study: “While in the medium and longer term in-migration may alleviate some of these issues, one of the characteristics of the existing workforce that has been linked to the success of trucking and warehousing to date is the strong blue-collar work ethic and culture of work that it has bred. There is no guarantee that this can be sustained as the composition of the workforce changes.”

Fuellhart and Marr also wondered about sprawl — how long can the logistics/transportation industry be confined to the I-81 corridor when land there becomes more expensive compared to land farther away.

“Because the two industries are so visible on the landscape and impact local residents in their daily activities,” they said, “it will be critical to manage future growth so as to maintain the high quality of life the region is known for, while providing good jobs for the area’s residents.”

Franklin County is one of Pennsylvania’s leading agricultural counties with dairy, livestock and poultry leading the way. Several of the county’s small towns also have revitalization plans to preserve their individual flavors.

Chambersburg, the county seat, has garnered investment of about $10 million for downtown improvements. The Coyle Free Library is undergoing a major reconstruction. The long vacant former Chambersburg High School will see new life as urban apartments and offices.

Franklin County Commissioners are preparing to invest in a judicial center downtown.

“You hope that we’re attractive for folks looking for employment,” Ross said. “Hopefully we strengthen the quality of life. We can create more diverse job openings. Supply and demand for labor will drive wages up, and hopefully create more disposable income.”

Ross hopes to diversify the economy beyond the big boxes popping up on I-81 and expanding services for the elderly. He wants to strengthen other facets of the county economy – the defense industry at Letterkenny Army Depot, manufacturing, tourism and professional services.

Jim Hook, 717-262-4759

Manitowoc adds 80 jobs with crawler crane production

Jim Hook , jhook@publicopinionnews.com Published 2:22 p.m. ET May 26, 2017

SHADY GROVE – The Manitowoc factory in Franklin County will officially welcome crawler crane production at 1 p.m. on Wednesday with a flag raising.

Manitowoc Co., a leading global maker of construction cranes, consolidated its U.S. manufacturing operations in August by moving its crawler crane operations from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, to Shady Grove. The local plant previously made hydraulic cranes.

More than 80 experienced employees at Shady Grove have already been called back to work for extensive training on the crawler crane line.

“These are good jobs that pay family-supporting wages,” said Brian Smith, director of human resources in Shady Grove. “They require skills such as the ability to weld tubular, heavy plate, and high tensile steel. But we need to hire more than just welders, too.”

The first 300-ton capacity MLC300 crawler crane built in Shady Grove came off the line in February, and the first 650-ton capacity MLC650 crawler crane rolled off in March. While some Manitowoc brand crawler cranes have been assembled in Shady Grove for several years, preparing the plant for a full line of crawler cranes has been a major undertaking.

Smith sees a potential for adding jobs through 2018, depending on regulatory reform and infrastructure legislation along with the return of cyclical market demand. The heavy machinery industry has suffered through a historic downturn since 2012.

Since 2008, Manitowoc lost as many as many as 2,000 jobs partly because of market demand and legislative policy that created significant advantages for imported cranes. Since the company has never off-shored crane manufacturing jobs, Manitowoc plans to reverse these losses by rebuilding America’s infrastructure with American-built cranes made by American workers, according to Smith.

Over the past five months, as many as 10 trucks a day have been moving machines, materials, and parts from Manitowoc and Port Washington, Wisconsin, to Shady Grove.

Favorable winter weather allowed an aggressive schedule for, not only the equipment move, but also for the large-scale building modifications and hundreds of tons of concrete poured for foundations to accommodate large machining tools and automated welding equipment needed to produce crawler cranes. In just 16 weeks, an existing production building in Shady Grove was emptied and fortified to accommodate crawler crane production. The larger space allowed production to flow efficiently from assembly to paint to testing.

A 1947 Manitowoc brand SpeedCrane, an antique crawler crane recently moved from Wisconsin, is displayed at the front of the 303-acre campus. Two Grove mobile cranes flank the crawler crane on a 300-ton concrete pad. Together they symbolize the resiliency of crane manufacturing at Shady Grove and the past and future of Manitowoc, according to Smith.

If steps proposed by the current administration in Washington D.C. become law, it will also be a boon for the local economy, he said. An infrastructure bill, coupled with regulatory reform legislation, will allow the company to add good-paying manufacturing jobs and help grow the economy.

The details of the Trump infrastructure plan are unclear, but at least $200 billion is proposed to be spent in the next decade. Congress must weigh in.

Manitowoc, founded in 1902 in Manitowoc, separated its food service business from the crane business in early 2016. The standalone crane manufacturer had the freedom to restructure its business to meet the demands of the domestic and international crane market.

Manitowoc in 2002 acquired the Shady Grove campus, known as Grove Worldwide. The local company had its roots in a farm wagon business started by John and Dwight Grove and Wayne Nicarry in 1947.

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