Fourteen months of work came to fruition Friday as BOC Water Hydraulics opened a $3 million expansion.
BOC builds high- pressure water valves for steel, oil and gas refineries and marine industries, said Todd Olson, company president. As part of the expansion, BOC built a new office building that allowed it to dedicate an additional 15,000 square feet to production.
“The main point of this expansion was so we could crank out more stuff,” Olson said. “The company has been growing at a rate of 15 percent to 25 percent per year.”
The company had to expand because it ran out of room to make more valves, he said. BOC did $10 million in business in 2011.
BOC started in 1993 with one employee. It since has moved several times and expanded over the years as the company grew. It employs 45 people with plans to add more as business progresses, Olson said.
“Good companies with good people and good business plans will succeed,” he added.
A significant portion of the expansion celebration focused on how BOC can serve as an example to young people about careers in manufacturing.
Area manufacturers are concerned there will not be enough people with the necessary skills for manufacturing, such as machining and welding, available to meet rising demands.
At this point, BOC has not had any issues with hiring, but the company is concerned that as manufacturing continues to grow, there could be a problem, Olson said.
“That’s why we’re a charter member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition,” he said. “If everyone in manufacturing locally wanted to hire two machinists, we’d be in trouble.”
The coalition is an organization of manufacturers that identifies opportunities and challenges facing the industry.
It is important to show young people there are good careers in manufacturing. There are jobs where workers can use both their head and their hands, Olson said.
Matt Peters, industrial-arts teacher at Salem High School, brought all his students to the event to show them the possible career opportunities.
“What better way to do that than to bring them to the opening of a brand-new facility,” he said.
The current class of industrial-arts students at Salem is larger than any time Peters can remember, he said. The efforts of the coalition and people such as Olson have helped make students aware of the opportunities in manufacturing, he added.
Many schools have gotten rid of industrial arts, Peters said. But Salem has retained the program because the city’s history revolves around manufacturing.
BOC is an example of modern manufacturing, said Jessica Borza, the coalition’s executive director.
“Unfortunately, there are people with old images of manufacturing. These are skilled jobs,” she said.
The fact that manufacturing is growing fast enough that companies are worried about facing a shortage of workers is a good problem to have, Borza added.