CIRM Custom Decorating, one of this area’s largest employers, hopes to begin construction on a 10,000-square-foot expansion as early as this spring, with plans for the project being finalized this month.
In December 2011, the company began operating in the former Unity Elementary School after the Maxwell China Co. experienced financial problems and closed.
Starting with five employees, CIRM’s operations have grown to include 27, and with the forthcoming expansion and the possibility of a second 10,000-square-foot addition next fall, as many as 23 more employees could be hired going forward, said Richard DeChellis, CIRM president.
“We’re currently in the planning stages, but we need to expand this facility because we’ve maxed out our production capabilities here,” DeChellis said. “We’ve also been talking with the state of Ohio about support, tax credits and grants — basically anything at all that might help us with adding more employees.”
CIRM has additional operations in Toronto, Canada, and Rochester, N.Y., both of which have more space and more employees.
But CIRM’s Unity facility on state Route 14 in Columbiana County pulls from an area that long has been experienced in ceramics and pottery. DeChellis told The Vindicator last July the goal for his facility is eventually to equal that of the company’s Toronto operation, which boasts 70,000 square feet of production space.
“The work force in this area is already trained for what we do here,” he said. “We have different levels of business as a company, and different factories do different things. Because of the work force and the success we’ve had here, we could move operations from other facilities here, which would also add jobs.”
The Unity location has about 40,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. CIRM works closely with foreign and domestic companies to decorate glass and ceramics with customized labels or designs.
A major part of its business is the food-service industry, contracting with the Girl Scouts of America, country clubs and even American Mug and Stein Co. in East Liverpool, which designs coffee cups for the Starbucks Coffee Co.
Last month, DeChellis said he met with the two largest groups in the food-service industry, and business prospects are shaping up quickly as a result. He declined to disclose the names of those companies.
If CIRM ends up completing its expansions and adding dozens of employees, it would be yet another benefit for the area. Nearby, in East Palestine, town officials have had luck generating new business venues and more economic activity in recent months.