By Ed Runyan
Billy Orbach, president of Ohio Star Forge, a Champion Township forging mill, says today’s vote from the Trumbull County commissioners brings the company closer to finalizing a $20 million to $22 million expansion.
The company is completing the “last couple hurdles” to adding a 33,000-square-foot building, buying $14 million to $16 million in new forging equipment and adding 25 to 30 employees in the next three years.
The mill, which operates in part of the former CSC and Copperweld Steel facility on Mahoning Avenue, plans to buy a piece of equipment twice the size of any piece it has now — 1,500 tons.
It will allow Ohio Star Forge, an independent subsidiary of Daido Steel, to enter a new market niche and get new customers while also enhancing its existing market share.
The company makes hot-rolled bars from which it forges parts for the automotive and gas and oil industries. Some of its products are fasteners, nuts and cap-screws.
Ohio Star still is in negotiations with First Energy to establish electricity rates for the project, Orbach said.
“Hopefully, the first of the year we’ll have a final decision,” he said of going forward with the expansion, adding, “It’s not a done deal.”
Orbach said the “very large recovery” being experienced by the American automobile market is helping fuel a need for the parts Ohio Star Forge produces.
“I feel it’s a valuable product for our area,” he said.
The Champion Township trustees approved by a 2-0 vote Monday a 60 percent tax abatement for 10 years on the $2 million to $3.5 million cost of the construction of the new building.
The Trumbull commissioners are expected to approve that same abatement at 10 a.m. today.
Ohio Star Forge currently owns 81/2 acres of the former Copperweld facilities and has 161,000 square feet of space under roof.
The project will expand that to 12 acres and 190,000 square feet under roof. The company’s employment is expected to grow from 95 people to 120 or 125.
“We have a very experienced work force,” Orbach said, adding that 20 percent of the workers live in Champion Township.
Ohio Star Forge produces about 30,000 metric tons of products each year.
Mark Zigmont, head of economic development for the Trumbull County Planning Commission, said Ohio Star Forge has had two previous abatements, “and they’ve always done what they were supposed to do and more.”
Warren Steel Holdings owns the rest of the former CSC-Copperweld property and has been a good partner in Ohio Star Forge’s success, Orbach said.