Manufacturer expanding in Champaign County, recruiting for new jobs

A company specializing in manufacturing firefighting vehicles is expanding into Champaign County, where it has pledged to add more than 20 new employees.

Sutphen Corp. is based in Dublin, Ohio and makes fire trucks and other firefighting equipment. The company is expanding and signed a lease to develop a new service, parts and refurbishment center in an existing facility at 49 N. Ludlow Road in Urbana, said Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the Champaign Economic partnership.

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The company is recruiting service technicians and will initially provide 22 jobs at the Urbana facility, although there is room for additional expansion, Bailey said. Sutphen already has a presence in Clark County, where the company operates a service and chassis division on County Line Road.

“The good news is they’re not leaving Clark County,” Bailey said. “They’re going to have both operations.”

The Ludlow Road facility was initially built as a $1.8 million agricultural research site for DuPont Pioneer. But that company left the site after only about 18 months.

The Urbana location will provide more room for Sutphen to expand its parts inventory and focus on refurbishing fire engines, which company officials said is a growing part of the family-owned business. The move will also allow the company to expand its chassis assembly operations in Springfield, and launch a new training program.

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“We have seen consistent growth in sales, and as a result of that, we can expand the business in ways that will allow us to continue to put out a great product and meet the increased demands we are seeing,” said Drew Sutphen, the company’s president in a news release. “It’s all about building a better experience for our customers, and that is what we are committed to.”

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Along with the expansion in Urbana, Sutphen also recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Scranton, Pa., developed a new inspection area at its Hilliard, Ohio facility and redeveloped an existing building at its Dublin location to meet increased manufacturing demand.

Terry Howell of Howell Brothers Development, built the Ludlow Road site in 2012 for DuPont. He said Sutphen had expressed interest in the site several years ago, but it was a time-consuming process to make sure the building would meet Sutphen’s needs.

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Howell and Bailey worked with officials in Union Twp. to rezone the property as a conditional use to allow light manufacturing. Sutphen also had to make sure the site was feasible for their operations, and renovations were made that included adding overhead doors, removing a laboratory space and other changes.

“It took an awful long time,” Howell joked about the process. “I’ve got a lot more gray hairs.”

The deal could also benefit the Triad Local School District, which could potentially receive additional income tax dollars from the new jobs in the district, Bailey said. She said officials in the school district told her Sutphen would be the largest non-agricultural employer in the district.

By the numbers:

22 — New jobs being added

128 years — How long Sutphen has existed

2012 — Year the Urbana facility was built

5 — Number of additional Sutphen locations

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to providing unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper spoke to developers and economic development officials in Urbana about a manufacturing firm’s decision to expand and add more than 20 new jobs.

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