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Valley Partners, a nonprofit funding source for local businesses

Are you preparing to finance a project to expand your business?

Look no further for option than to MVMC new member Valley Economic Development Partners.

Since 1978, the nonprofit has helped local small businesses with loans.

“We offer and facilitate a variety of loan programs to support small businesses with specialized flexible lending solutions.,” said Teresa Miller, executive director.

Think of it as bridge or gap financing packages.

There are a number of options, including larger SBA-partnered programs, where Valley Partners mitigates risk to the bank and client by funding a portion of the project.

“We take a second position on collateral behind the bank,” Miller said.

Valley Economic Development Partners employees pictured, left to right, front row, are: Julie Swauger, office manager/trust manager; Madison Hoover, loan assistant/marketing manager; Teresa Miller, executive director; Cassie Wyatt, business coach. Left to right, back row, are: Mario Nero, director of economic development lending; Greg Lutz, financial specialist; Maureen Stenglein, SBA lobal officer; and Wendy Walters, director of servicing.

If a business applies for a loan at a bank, the bank can say the business must have 20 percent equity for a $5 million project.

Valley Partners enters, offering funding for 40 percent of the project, while the bank offers 50 percent. That will leave the business portion to 10 percent.

There are smaller loan programs, where Valley Partners is able to fund without bank participation as well.

A long-time popular option which will likely see a resurgence Miller said is a loan fund from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) called the Regional 166. It is targeted for the manufacturing industry.

While interest rates are on the rise, Regional 166 loans will most likely remain around 3 to 4 percent.

This is great for expansions, equipment purchases, location moves or purchasing a new building, Miller said. If a company wants to finance on their own, Valley Partners can utilize the Regional 166 loan for 75 percent of the project if the business funds the remaining 25 percent.

“This is a perfect loan fund program for fixed assets a manufacturing company might be looking for.”

For more information or to being the application process, visit www.valleyedp.com.

“We’re here to help and partner with their banks to make the best loan package that’s possible for small businesses in the Valley.”

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Member Manufacturers

Member PanelMatic aims to grow staff

How many times when you’re driving along a stretch of interstate, and you come up behind a massive building-like structure creeping along, escorted and plastered with “WIDE LOAD” signs?

Chances are, some of those could be modular buildings manufactured by MVMC newer member PanelMatic Building Solutions of Brookfield.

The modular buildings are largely used as substation control buildings, power distribution centers and switchgear motor control centers.

PanelMatic can also create modified shipping containers, mull pulpits, operator cads, large enclosures to shelter equipment, battery storage enclosures and general heavy fabrication skidded equipment.

Founded in 1957 in Youngstown, PanelMatic split from Dearing Compressor years later.

Founder Bud Dearing was making his way into electrical controls, and to keep distribution, the company had to separate the electrical side, said Dan Vodhanel, general manager of the Brookfield location.

Splitting further in 2019, PanelMatic moved the modular building out of the Youngstown Plant, which now handles control pandels. That’s when PanelMatic Building Solutions was born.

Since 2019, employees have worked in a 73,000-square-foot facility at 6882 Parkway Drive in Brookfield.

PanelMatic Building Solutions in Brookfield builds and then ships specially crafted modular containers and buildings.

“We’re a very large job shop. Every order is custom to suite our customers’ needs,” Vodhanel said.

There are currently 30 employees, and Vodhanel aims to hire another 20 in the next two years to cover positions in manufacturing, engineering and electricity.

The process of creating a modular building begins when the engineering team reviews a quote and specifications. Then, the design is drawn up and sent to the customer for approval. After that, crews begin manufacturing the building.

Once the building is erected, it’s painted, then electricians from IBEW Local 2241 – PanelMatic’s union – install electrical components.

When the building is done, it’s shrink-wrapped and shipped.

Vodhanel has taken advantage of various programs to help upskill his employees, including On-The-Job training payment programs and TechCred for welding certification and software for engineers.

PanelMatic in Brookfield was also awarded the Excellence in Manufacturing in 2020 from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

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Member Manufacturers

City Machine Technologies, others team up on Kids Career Fair

Through a local partnership, children were introduced to manufacturing as they spent time learning hands-on what it means to be part of the industry.

During the Kids Career Fair held at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, manufacturer member City Machine Technologies, Inc. and Oh Wow! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technolog presented an early afternoon of encouraging children and their parents to consider workforce development as they get older.

During the Kids Career Fair, youngsters participated in hands-on activities to show what manufacturing is about. Pictured, two girls demonstrate the extruding process with Play-Doh at the MVMC booth.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce students and their families to what modern manufacturing is,” said Allison Engstrom, project manager for MVMC.

“Our goal at MVMC is to find ways to bring people into the manufacturing industry, and one of the ways we are doing that is through youth outreach, where we promote conversations with children about their future,” Engstrom said.

Over the course of four hours, 1,000 people attended, visiting not only CMT, but also the exhibits from fellow MVMC members Vallourec and Marsh Bellofram.

Each table offered information, hands-on fun and a presentation about various roles in manufacturing.

There were more than 40 organizations and career tech programs from around the Mahoning Valley who set up booths and presentations, showing different career paths available.

At MVMC’s booth, about 200 children – mostly elementary and middle school students – rolled up their sleeves and used Play-Doh to learn about extruding.

To discuss ways to build community outreach programs, contact Engstrom at allison@mahoningvalleymfg.com.

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Member Manufacturers

Salem manufacturer ships around world

In the industrial portion of Salem is a larger-than-life manufacturer with ties all around the world.

 

Founded in 1985 by engineer John Buta, Butech Bliss is known globally for rugged machinery, notably a scrap chopper.

 

Butech Bliss is an MVMC member.

 

The Butech Bliss scrap chopper processes ferrous and non-ferrous metals that are various thicknesses and material yield strengths.

A machinist works at Butech Bliss in Salem.
Bill Bingham, a machinist with Butech Bliss, operates and retools an Ingersoll planer Mill with a 420” table and 100,000-pound weight capacity.

Buta still owns the company today that employs 294 people.

 

In the early 2000s, Butech purchased the assets of Bliss which included a large manufacturing facility the newly combined companies are now known as Butech Bliss.

 

Employees can install the new machinery once it’s complete, also training customers on how to use the new equipment.

 

Family atmosphere

 

Walking through Butech Bliss, many of the employees have a welcoming, close demeanor.

 

That’s partly due to a family atmosphere with low turnover.

 

“We have many employees that have been with the company for many years. Butech Bliss is a family-owned business and they set in place a very nice benefits package with a rich vacation package, paid medical insurance and annual bonus just to mention a few,” Lisa Kravec, marketing and advertising manager, said.

 

There’s also an investment in new employees.

 

Butech Bliss offers an apprenticeship program for machinists and large equipment assemblers.

 

Big projects

 

The three facilities in Salem are a combined 500,000 square feet.
The Bliss portion makes the steel.

 

Jobs at Butech Bliss are oftentimes massive, said Lisa Kravec, marketing and advertising manager.

Two Butech Bliss large assembly equipment technicians work on a stretch leveler also used in the processing of steel.
Two Butech Bliss large assembly equipment technicians work on a stretch leveler also used in the processing of steel.

“Sometimes our pieces are so big we have to hire super trucks that have 19 axels and are escorted by police cars,” she said.

 

Then there was the time Butech Bliss build the world’s largest shear for a client in Germany.

 

To transport the machinery overseas, a ship from a Cleveland port was hired, Kravec said.

 

Helping to further shape the manufacturing field, Butech Bliss is building machinery for the nation’s most efficient steel plant in Siton, Texas.

 

A hot mill will go in, surrounded by service centers. One of the centers has purchased two service lines.

 

“We’re getting to be a player in this huge project in Texas. It’s exciting,” Kravec said.

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Member Manufacturers

Employee support is a key factor in Commercial Metal Forming’s 100-year legacy

Recently, Commercial Metal Forming in Youngstown celebrated a milestone – the company’s 100th birthday.

 

In its many moving parts pushing toward success, one of the key mechanisms is the team.

 

“Our success is only going to happen based on how we help our entire organization be successful,” said Bob Messaros, president and CEO.

 

Company leaders understand the values employees bring to the table, he added, which is why CMF has been around for a century.

 

The Cushwa family started the company, which evolved over time to offer a variety of products in the last 100 years, Messaros said.

Bob Messaros and Mike Conglose of CMF stand in front of a map.
Bob Messaros, left, president and CEO of Commercial Metal Forming, and Mike Conglose, vice president of operations, both say the Youngstown business has seen success for a century because of its focus on employees.

Started in the roaring ‘20s as Commercial Shearing and Stamping, CMF now manufactures tank heads and accessories for the pressure vessel tank industry.

 

There are about 85 hourly and salaried employees locally.

 

Rounding out the company are facilities in Orange County, Calif., and Saginaw, Texas.

 

Overall, CMF has 155 employees.

Developing talent

 

Attributing to CMF’s lasting power is the loyal employees.

 

“There’s a number of employees who have been here for a significant amount of time,” said Mike Conglose, vice president of operations.

 

Many people “have endured a lot,” including ownership changes and expectations in response to shifts in the economy, most recently in the 2009 downturn.

 

As the company transitioned from 2009 forward, there was a focus on how important each person, whether in sales, production or management, is, both Messaros and Conglose said.

 

“When you look at the contribution from a lot of the people who have been here not only an extended period of time, but also the new people we’ve brought on board… I think that’s the core of how and why we’ve endured the number of years we have endured,” Conglose said.

Started in the 1920s, Commercial Metal Forming in Youngstown has around 85 employees. CMF manufactures tank heads and accessories, which are supplied around the world.

People are encouraged to work in other departments, adding to a true team effort. People aren’t pigeonholed into one area.

 

“You have to look at your own talent first and try to develop that,” Messaros said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we are looking as deep in the organization as possible.”

 

There’s an aspect of low turnover at CMF, even throughout new ownership transitions and economic downturns.

Building a team

 

It’s a level of trust, Messaros said. People have brought their kids to work in various disciplines within the company.

 

An element to that level of trust is from leadership working with and listening to employees.

 

Conglose said the organization is a host to talented people who have worked with CMF for decades.

 

When newer employees come on board, their fresh ideas are welcomed and incorporated.

 

“They blend in and fit extremely well with the people who have been here,” Conglose said.

 

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Member Manufacturers

Immersive safety program kicks off at ClarkDietrich

Vienna is home to the largest manufacturer of cold-formed steel in North America.

 

ClarkDietrich, a new member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, is that manufacturer.

 

It has three locations within 10 minutes of each other, the largest situated on Ridge Road in Vienna Township, with 150 employees.

 

The other two locations are in Warren: Warren East on North River Road with 85 employees and CDH on Phoenix Road with 10 employees.

 

Nationwide, there are 1,500 employees in 14 plants.

 

ClarkDietrich’s Vienna location is also the largest in the company, Tina Parker, senior human resources business partner, said.

 

It is about 350,000 square feet and houses 35 roll forming machines, a machine shop and maintenance team with electricians and machinists who keep the equipment operating.

 

A shipping department organizes all of the logistics of the steel onto trucks, Parker said.

Safety first

When employees walk through the entrance at the Vienna location, they are instantly reminded of best safety practices.

A bright dojo was recently added to the training process.

 

Dojos are designated spaces for immersive learning.

A brightly colored training dojo is set up at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
As employees enter the entrance at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, they are greeted by a mannequin donning personal protection equipment in a bright hallway designed to help new hires learn safety.

“Our parent company (CWBS-MISA Inc.) wanted us to spearhead this type of interactive safety exhibit to show new hires the right way” to lift and use different machines, Parker said.

Getting to work

Leading the dojo project were plant supervisor Chris Plant and Alex Hertzer, plant superintendent.

 

Hertzer connected various departments for the “very interactive, very bright” learning space, Parker said.

 

The concept, Hertzer said, is “overstimulation” from a safety standpoint. That’s why it’s bright with green floors and bright lighting, and hands-on.

 

“It was a really great effort by the team – supervisors, operators, maintenance. It was fun to see it all come together,” Parker said.

How it works

The dojo gives new employees — some of whom may never have worked in a hands-on, manufacturing discipline — a first glimpse at manufacturing, making the industry less intimidating.

New hires are trained at ClarkDietrich in the training dojo.
Ken VonBergen, safety manager, leads new employees on a tour at ClarkDietrich in Vienna. The group spent some time in the safety dojo – a designated area for immersive learning.

“It shows someone who is maybe a spatial learner rather than a textbook learner,” Hertzer said.

 

A mannequin wearing personal protective equipment greets employees, who then move down the hallway, which is divided into sections.

 

“It’s nice because they’re not practicing on necessarily real machinery” that could be dangerous, Parker said.

 

Miniature cranes and tow motors are part of the experience. Employees also learn the correct way to lift heavy objects.

Miniature items are used to help train new employees at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
Models of how to properly move about the ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna help new hires, as well as remind current employees, use best practices to prevent injuries.

Another dojo on the way

During pre-shift meetings, many employees will take time to stretch to limber up for the constant bending and stooping they’ll do throughout their day, Parker said.

 

“Stretching before they start their shifts really helps. We really encourage them to participate in the pre-shift meetings, the stretching activities in particular,” Parker said.

 

Next, another dojo is in its infancy stages, but it will focus on another aspect, Hertzer said.

 

An operations/productions dojo will be added to the plant in the near future.

 

It will show how to gauge tooling, and “other simple concepts” that aren’t necessarily second nature to a new employee jumping into the industry, he said.

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of MVMC.

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Member Manufacturers

Hubbard company reaching for stars after expansion

Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard is in a big start-up phase.

 

The manufacturer produces large-diameter aluminum ingot and billet, rectangular slab, and cast plates.

 

Following a 72,000-square-foot expansion last year, the facility covers 105,000 square feet.

 

The century-old, family-owned company melts down metal to form a 94,000-pound aluminum slab, human resources and safety specialist Hank Stull said.

 

“You don’t realize how big the slabs are until you see them,” he said.

 

The metal slabs are purchased by other companies, including Boeing and SpaceX, to be formed into a new part.

An Ellwood Aluminum employee monitors molten aluminum.
An employee with Ellwood Aluminum in Hubbard monitors molten aluminum, which will be formed into a large slab. Following a 72,000-square-foot expansion last year, its facility covers 105,000 square feet.

Looking to grow

There are currently 10 salaried people and 25 hourly, working two shifts. The goal is to grow the hourly positions.

 

“I need to double what I have now,” Stull said.

 

Ellwood Aluminum is among the newest member manufacturers of Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition. They have been working together to bring more people on board at the facility, as well as with help with online promotion with social media, Stull said. The collaboration with MVMC helps lead people to the plant, Stall said.

 

A second round of WorkAdvance, also with MVMC, is being implemented. Earlier this year, three candidates were hired out of the program.

 

WorkAdvance offers a five-week training program to the candidates specific to Ellwood Aluminum’s various roles.

 

This time around, Stull hopes to see 10 candidates.

Women joining the force

 

Ellwood Aluminum welcomes women to work, too.

 

Out of the 25 hourly employees, seven are women who worked up the ranks, Stull said.

 

“They didn’t have aluminum experience, but they all serve in key rolls now,” he said, adding they moved up from casting operator into their roles, which include control room and saw operators. “It happened pretty organically.”

 

While the company continues its path in the aluminum industry and create ways to hire new employees, Stull feels the expansion and upcoming projects are good signs of what’s to come.

 

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

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Beatitude House teens tour Brilex to learn about manufacturing job opportunities

While Brilex Industries works to design and build specialized heavy equipment for customers around the world, the local advanced manufacturer also likes to spark interest in manufacturing careers.

 

That was the case when 13 teens from the Beatitude House toured their facility.

Brilex worker shows kids the equipment
Brilex machine shop manager Jason Jones explains what he does to a group of kids from Beatitude House, hoping to spark their interest in a future career in manufacturing.

The nonprofit reached out to Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition to set up a series of tours of trade and manufacturing facilities as part of its summer program for juveniles.

 

Through education and safe living, the Beatitude House helps disadvantaged women and children.

 

MVMC is a network of valley manufacturers who work together to create a skilled workforce by a number of ways, including raising awareness of different types of work in manufacturing, which can lead to higher wages. Skills are also assessed for employees, both current and future.

 

Brilex opened its doors to give the teens, between the seventh and 12th grades, a glimpse at what it means to work in a manufacturing position.

 

Opening their eyes to today’s manufacturing jobs

 

“So many young folks, and their parents, have a misconception that manufacturing is dark and dirty work,” Brilex plant manager Ryan Engelhardt, said. “Through tours, youths can see different aspects of work done in the field, and in this case, Brilex.”

 

group shot from Beatitude House kids
Tours like the one Brilex hosted with Beatitude House enables teens to see the possibilities that exist with careers in advanced manufacturing.

Speaking on a local level, tours allow for young people to see various types of work done here in the Mahoning Valley, said Katie Denno, marketing manager for Brilex.

 

As manufacturers hold tours, more interest is generated in the field, Engelhardt said. That in turn creates a “potential pool” of people who are likely to look into the field when they are ready for employment.

 

Partnering with MVMC, Jennifer Battaglia, child wellness coordinator for The Beatitude House, said the Brilex tour showed the kids different employees, ranging from welders to machinists to engineers, work together in the same building.

 

The summer program works to show the kids that college doesn’t have to be the only option they have after graduating high school.

 

“It was important to us that they were able to experience what it could like to go to a trade school, and the jobs they would be doing in manufacturing if they choose that path,” Battaglia said.

 

Tours were also held at Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College, which will lead to conversations with the teens throughout the school year about what they would like to pursue, Battaglia said.