CHICAGO Ohio Star Forge
Co., which makes parts for the automotive, off-highway
equipment and bearings industries, among others, plans to
double its forging capacity with a $20-million expansion.
The company has purchased land
adjacent to its 180,000-square-foot plant in Champion Township,
Ohio, and will construct a 33,000-square-foot addition to house
a new production line, chief executive officer Bill Orbach told
AMM. The line will be built around a high-speed
horizontal hot-former made by Reinach, Switzerland-based
Hatebur Umformmaschinen AG.
"We have four Hateburs in
production now," Orbach said. "Once the fifth machine is
installed, we will be able to produce components from 1 inch to
6.5 inches in diameter," and Ohio Stars output will
nearly double to 70,000 to 71,000 tons of forgings per year
from 36,000 tons currently.
The decision to expand was
driven in part by the "pretty strong" trend of European and
Japanese automakers with assembly plants in North America
sourcing their raw materials locally, Orbach said.
An even more compelling reason
is that "there has been a lack of capacity due to consolidation
of steel and forging capacity. A lot of (forging) companies
went under after 2009 or merged; plus, some capacity was taken
out of service and shipped to China," he said.
"There are other machines like
ours in North America, but the last was installed in 1998,"
Orbach said. "We dug into it, and (found) no one has added
capacity in that (large) size range. Its the perfect
opportunity at the perfect time."
Start-up is scheduled for Nov.
1. The company employs 96 people and expects to add another 30
to 35 workers over the next three years as it installs
peripheral machinery to support existing processes, such as
Ohio Star has been gathering
order commitments for product from the new line for "close to a
year now," Orbach said. "Activity has picked up tremendously in
the past couple of months as we got closer" to finalizing the
Orbach credited the state,
Mahoning County and Champion Township economic development
authorities with helping to advance the project with job
creation grants, property tax abatements and other
Using hot-rolled special bar
quality (SBQ) products, Ohio Star manufactures hot-forged
products for automotive drivetrain and wheel hubs, specialty
industrial and natural gas applications, off-road equipment,
fasteners and bearing components. The Warren, Ohio-based
company has produced 900 million forgings in its 25 years of
operation and expects to hit 1 billion right around the time of
the new lines start-up.