Tsuda Industries expansion

A local manufacturer is asking county officials for a tax break to support a multi-million dollar expansion project — a development that would add dozens of jobs to the company’s workforce.

Tsuda Industries, a Japan-based auto parts producer, wants to build a 70,000-square-foot expansion to its current facility off West County Road 300N, which opened in 2014. The proposed expansion is expected to cost as much as $55 million, including construction and new equipment, officials said.

Company representatives recently requested a tax break that could spare the company approximately $3.5 million over 10 years. In that period of time, the company still would pay about $2.5 million in taxes to the county.

By 2017, the company, which currently employs 90 workers, anticipates hiring at least 35 new employees to keep up with production.

The majority of those employees would operate machinery, earning between $12 and $15 per hour, said Mark Berardi, plant manager for Tsuda.

All positions would be full-time, and workers would qualify for a benefits package from their first day on the job, Berardi said.

The company’s 155,000-square-foot facility in Greenfield is its only location outside of Asia, where it operates six additional plants.

Tsuda stands out from competitors across the U.S. by manufacturing parts using a so-called “cold-forge” machine, which compresses steel into specified shapes through brute force, as opposed to pouring molten metal into molds, a time-consuming technique that also presents more hazards to workers, Berardi said.

Such manufacturers allow Hancock County to stand out from other regions, said Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, who brokered the proposal.

In talks with county officials this week, company representatives hinted at plans for an additional 95,000-square-foot expansion that could be built in several years, depending on the company’s success.

Those consistent additions ensure the county’s economy remains strong, Kuker said.

“It’s economic development 101,” he said. “Once we land the big deals, we want to see them continue to grow, so we, as a county, can continue to grow. That’s what brings stability.”

The county council unanimously approved an initial request from the company at its meeting Wednesday.

Council president Bill Bolander said he’s pleased with the company’s progress.

When the company opened its doors in 2014, representatives were hoping to clear $5 million in the first year of sales; in 2016, earnings are projected to top $18 million, Berardi said.

“They’re doing pretty well so far, and we’re happy to do what we can do see them do even better,” Bolander said.

Pending final approval from the county council, construction would begin as early as possible, Berardi said.

By Daniel Morgan, Daily Reporter