Calling it an investment in the future of the company and the community, Schindler Elevator Corp. broke ground on a new, environmentally friendly manufacturing plant in Penn Township Monday afternoon.
Officials from Schindler, contractors for the project, and local political leaders stuck polished shovels into the ground and simultaneously turned over dirt to formally get construction of the 152,000-square-foot plant started.
Schindler expects to employ about 60 workers at the plant, which will manufacture visible finished elevator parts and serve as an order consolidation center. Most of those employees are coming from Schindler’s manufacturing facility in Gettysburg, which is scheduled to be phased out as the new plant nears a summer 2013 opening.
Schindler Vice President of Manufacturing Dave Thomas said the company hopes to eventually build a 70,000-square-foot addition to the plant on Industrial Drive.
The company did not disclose the cost of the project.
Under a cloudless, blue sky, Schindler officials talked about a bright future for the elevator manufacturer.
“This state-of-the-art facility is going to be the first in a series of elevator facilities built in strategically located positions around the world,” said John Impellizzeri, Schindler’s supply chain vice president. “This will be the model of the next Schindler Elevator facilities.”
Schindler Elevator is the North American operation of Switzerland-based Schindler Group, a global leader in the manufacture of escalators, elevators and mobile walkways that employs 44,000 workers.
Named one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 most innovative companies in 2011 and 2012, Schindler has more than 5,000 employees in North America and is headquartered in Morristown, N.J.
“This new facility is an investment in Schindler’s future, in the U.S., and it’s a continued investment in being a made-in-America company,” Impellizzeri said.
Thomas said the new plant would concentrate on manufacturing high-surface elevator components such as doors, cabs and entrances.
“The parts the customer sees,” he explained.
Certain components manufactured at the Gettysburg plant will be transferred to a D.L. Martin Co. facility in East Berlin and some will be contracted through small, local manufacturers. He said the aging Gettysburg plant is more space than the company needs and that some equipment there is outdated.
“We’re going to focus the (new) factory on what it has to do,” Thomas said.
The new facility will have a number of sustainable features, including photovoltaic solar panels, a “zero discharge” water system, energy-efficient lighting, a concrete parking lot that will reflect heat and electric-car charging stations in the parking lot. Officials expect it to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Building Council.
“This facility in Hanover promises to be one of the greenest manufacturing facilities ever built in the United States,” Impellizzeri said.
Thomas said the company visited factories in four countries and considered locations across North America before choosing the 23-acre site in Penn Township’s industrial park, next to McClarin Plastics.
“After a year of effort we determined that central Pennsylvania would continue to be the best location for Schindler,” he said. “We need to position ourselves for growth in the North American market and this is the best place to do that.”
“We could have built this facility anywhere in the world, but we chose Hanover, Pa.,” said Impellizzeri, who noted the company’s strong ties to local suppliers and a highly trained work force as reasons to stay in the region.
Penn Township Commissioner Wendell Felix called the new plant a “win-win” situation.
“It’s not only good for the township but good for the general area with new people moving in,” he said.
Felix and other officials said they were glad to see Schindler use local businesses such as Conewago Contractors, architect James E. Baumgardner and Paragon Engineering Services to design and construct the plant.
“Schindler has a very good reputation,” Felix said. “Penn and Hanover has a lot to give Schindler and Schindler has a lot to give Hanover and Penn.”
U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, praised the company’s commitment to the region.
“To make this type of investment at anytime in the community is wonderful, but especially in these economic times, to have a company that understands the importance of reinvesting and investing in a state-of-the-art facility, a green facility as well, really speaks volumes of the company,” Platts said.
Thomas conceded the elevator manufacturing industry is still feeling the effects of the downturn in construction due to the economy. But, he said, the company is taking a broader approach.
“We’re not driven by this year’s earnings. We’re looking at the long term,” he said.