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Falls manufacturer opens expanded facility after fire

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer

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Technicote will hold a ribbon cutting next week for its rebuilt and expanded facility which was destroyed by a fire about a year ago on Marc Dr. in Cuyahoga Falls. (Michael Chritton/Akron Beacon journal)

A Cuyahoga Falls company whose manufacturing facility suffered a devastating fire about a year ago is celebrating a rebuilt and expanded building.

Founded 32 years ago on Marc Drive, Technicote coats adhesive onto paper for products such as labels for consumer goods and address labels.

During the overnight shift Dec. 17, 2011, a spark from a machine ignited a cleaning solvent, which started the blaze. There were no injuries.

The cleaning solvent process was a routine task performed multiple times over 20 years, said Judson Waters, director of supply chain for Technicote.

“In the space of less than two minutes, the building had to be evacuated because of the smoke. Fire extinguishers were used initially by the people who were there, but it went past the initial stage very quickly,” he said.

All but 8,000 of the 50,000-square-foot building was damaged, Waters said.

The portion saved by fire walls and a fire door contained one of the company’s primary pieces of manufacturing equipment, he said.

Waters said the company received extra help from employees, nearby businesses and vendors.

“We had clients and vendors who opened up their warehouse to store materials. Next-door neighbors and businesses said, ‘Here, you can use this part of our area for your temporary offices.’ There was a lot of help and concern for folks,” Waters said.

The company spent about three months trying to determine whether to rebuild or relocate. The company’s headquarters are in Miamisburg near Dayton. The company employs 260 in 10 manufacturing and distribution facilities around the country.

The new Cuyahoga Falls complex is 53,800 square feet, or about 5,000 square feet larger than the original.

In a prepared statement, Technicote President Doug O’Connell said “after evaluating numerous options in various states and sites, we concluded rebuilding at our current location in Cuyahoga Falls was the best option. We were anxious to retain our experienced work force, since they are one of the keys to producing the unique products we offer. Another factor was that the city of Cuyahoga Falls has been great to work with throughout this process.”

The company was given a 50 percent tax break on the property tax assessed for the next 15 years, a savings of about $35,000 annually. But city officials have said even with the tax abatement, Woodridge schools still will receive more in property taxes once construction was complete than they were receiving prior to the fire.

The company spent more than $10 million on its new expansion, retained 40 jobs and plans to add 12 jobs if business does well.

Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart said he was pleased Technicote rebuilt in the Falls.

In a prepared statement, Cuyahoga Falls Development Director Susan Truby said the project was a collaboration with the city and county and the Greater Akron Chamber and “proof that public-private partnerships work. It’s not just about a project, it’s about the people and our community.”

The company will celebrate with a ribbon cutting Tuesday.

Operations are almost back to 100 percent from before the fire and all of the same products will be manufactured at the facility, Waters said.

Waters said all 40 employees before the fire were retained, including about 30 who went to the company’s Terre Haute, Ind., facility to work for several months at a time, at the company’s expense.

A few employees also stayed in Cuyahoga Falls to work and a few resigned, declining to travel. But the company is reaching out to those people and offering them their jobs back and at least one has returned, Waters said.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty.