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Twice as nice: Company seeks to nearly double workforce


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An aerospace company plans to expand its plant and nearly double its workforce in Greenwood.

L&E Engineering Co., a division of Ohio-based Ferco Enterprises LLC, wants to hire 40 more employees and make a $3.7 million investment in expanding its Greenwood facility to about twice its current size, plant manager Jeff Derrer said. The company plans to pay an average wage of $21.43 for the new jobs, not including benefits.

Engineers, quality engineers and supervisors all would be hired as part of the expansion, which involves adding about 110,000 more square feet to its plant in the Precedent South Business Center on the city’s eastside, Derrer said.

 

The projected wage is higher than the county average and the $17.50 an hour that L&E Engineering pays its current employees, Johnson County Development Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Cheryl Morphew said. The company employs 54 workers at its facility at 254 N. Graham Road, east of Interstate 65.

The new jobs will have higher pay because they require more highly skilled employees, Derrer said.

L&E Engineering makes tubes and brackets that go into airplane, gas turbine and industrial engines. The company needs to expand its tube manufacturing operations to keep up with rising demand in the aerospace industry, Derrer said.

Aircraft engine makers need more tubes because of a global increase in orders for commercial airliners.

“We’re glad to be part of Greenwood,” Derrer said. “And we’re glad to be part of a growing business.”

The company has been serving the aerospace industry since 1956 and makes a variety of tubes and other metal fabrications with high-strength titanium and aluminum, Derrer said. Major customers include GE Aviation and General Dynamics.

L&E Engineering is owned by the Ohio-based Ferco Aerospace Group, which also has facilities in Ohio and Kentucky. All three locations were considered as potential expansion sites before the company chose Greenwood.

Greenwood has many key benefits, chiefly an experienced labor force that can fill the jobs, Derrer said.

Last year, the company brought in about $23 million in revenue, including about $8 million from its Greenwood facility, Derrer said. This year, the Greenwood plant is on pace to bring in about $17 million in revenue, he said.

“We’re growing in a boom,” he said. “It’s the biggest boom we’ve ever seen.”

For the first time, airframe manufacturers have toured the plant to make sure that it can keep up with surging demand for the tubes that go into airplane engines, Derrer said. They want to make sure that the whole industry won’t suffer from a slowdown in manufacturing capacity, he said.

“That’s a fun position to be in,” he said.

Currently, the company operates a 113,256-square-foot plant in Greenwood. The plan is to spent $1 million to build an addition on about 5 acres directly west of the current building. The building would roughly double in size as a result, and the addition would be a mirror image of the existing facility, Derrer said.

L&E Engineering will invest about $3.7 million in the expansion and more manufacturing equipment, said Chad Sweeney, an economic development specialist with the Indianapolis-based firm Ginovus, which represents L&E Engineering.

Greenwood is offering the company separate 10-year tax breaks on both the building and the equipment. The redevelopment commission approved the incentives, but they still require approval from the Greenwood City Council.

If approved, the business will save an estimated $259,000 on property taxes over the next decade, as its property taxes are phased in. L&E Engineering still would have to pay an additional $220,000 in property taxes that it wouldn’t have otherwise, without the expansion.

Indiana also is offering the company about $450,000 in state income tax credits and training grants, as a reward for the planned expansion.

L&E Engineering plans to start construction of the expansion in July and finish in mid-2014.

All of the new manufacturing equipment should be added by sometime in 2016, Sweeney said.

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