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Company submits plans to expand

Urbana-based truck industry supplier added 70 jobs last year.

A manufacturing firm has submitted plans for an expansion that will eventually mean more jobs and investment, as well as add about 15,000 square feet to their Urbana business.

It’s too early to say how many jobs will be created, said Lilli Johnson, president of Johnson Welded Products. According to information on the company’s website, the firm manufactures reservoirs for air brake systems.

Johnson said the 44-year-old company supplies parts for the trucking industry, including companies like Navistar, Kenworth and Peterbilt. Those companies are forecasting increased business, and the expansion is meant to help Johnson Welded prepare for that additional demand, she said.

“Our business keeps expanding,” Johnson said. “We started with 30,000 square feet and this will make 150,000 square feet, so we’ve grown quite a bit.

The company has added about 70 jobs overall over the past year or so, she said.

“We’ve been adding lines,” she said. “We’re doing more aluminum. We make steel air tanks, but now we’re making a lot more aluminum tanks, so we’ve added another production line for the aluminum. That’s because of a requirement to take weight out of the vehicle because it makes them more fuel efficient.”

Brad Bodenmiller of Urbana’s Planning and Zoning Division said it is good to see a local company expand.

“They’ve been in the county and the city for a long time,” Bodenmiller said. “They’re a really good manufacturer. They’ve always been kind of strong and steady. They’re someone we definitely appreciate having here, and we’re glad to see them expanding.”

A.G. Samuelson, an engineering firm based in Springfield, worked with JWP to submit the plans to Urbana. The expansion would be in the facility’s northwest corner, Bodenmiller said, near College Way and Edgewood Avenue.

The company’s plans do fit into Urbana’s zoning requirements for that area, Bodenmiller said.

While significant, the addition is not large enough to require the plans to be approved by the city’s planning commission, Bodenmiller said.

“It’s a lot of money and it’s a lot of area, but because their site is so big, it doesn’t even have to go through planning commission,” Bodenmiller said. “When it’s under 10 percent of the gross floor area, it’s not considered a substantial expansion where it would need to go through a planning commission review.”

Once construction begins, Bodenmiller said the city will continue to monitor the project to make sure they work complies with the plans submitted, but he anticipated few problems.

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