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4/9/2017 4:47:00 PM
Office furniture maker moves to New Haven

Linda Lipp, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Sauder Manufacturing is investing about $3 million to move and expand operations now located in Grabill to the former Parker Hannifin plant in New Haven.

The company, based in Archbold, Ohio, builds commercial seating and other products for the health care, education, human services and church markets. It needed space to satisfy to growing demand for its products, particularly by health care providers.

Its 125 workers who are now spread out over five facilities in Grabill will move to the new location, and the company expects to add another 60 jobs there over the next five years, said Phil Bontrager, president and CEO of Sauder Manufacturing.

“We wanted to stay generally in the same area because we wanted to minimize disruption to our existing employee base. We have a skilled labor base there and we didn’t want to walk away from that,” Bontrager said.

The manufacturer needed 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of space to give it room to grow, and the 165,000-square-foot New Haven plant, about 12 miles from Grabill, fit the bill.

“The stars just seemed to align and come together for us,” Bontrager said.

Sauder Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Sauder Furniture Co., which makes ready-to-assemble home furnishings carried in many big box stores. Sauder Manufacturing produces strictly commercial furnishings, which have been pre-engineered but are not configured or customized with the desired wood finishes and fabrics until an order is placed.

“We don’t build anything until we have an order from a customer,” Bontrager said.

Sauder Manufacturing employs about 200 at its Archbold plant and offices; 120 at a plant in nearby Stryker, Ohio; and 50 at a facility in Richmond, Va. The Grabill facilities are home not just to its health-care furniture production, but to the health- care segment’s sales and marketing operations.

“Our health care business is a significant part of our business and it’s also a growing part of our business. We had a series of successful new products that accelerated that growth, so we made a decision to make an investment in a larger facility,” Bontrager said.

Sauder Manufacturing exports products all over the country, and the New Haven location also offered easier highway access.

The company expects to begin to “bring up” the new facility at 10801 Rose Ave. in August and be fully operational before the end of the year, Bontrager added. Recruiting for new positions will probably begin in the same time frame.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Sauder Manufacturing up to $300,00 in tax credits and $60,000 in traning grants, all contingent on job creation.

Established in 1934, Sauder Woodworking Co. is North America’s leading producer of ready-to-assemble furniture and one of the top five residential furniture manufacturers in the United States. Sauder Manufacturing is one of two subsidiaries of the third-generation, family-run business. Employing more than 2,400 workers in Ohio, Indiana and Virginia, the Sauder family of companies generates sales of more than $500 million annually.

Parker Hannifin announced in mid-2015 that it would close its New Haven plant, which at that time employed 150 people, in the following year. The company said the manufacture of cooling system components made in New Haven would be transferred to Tennessee and Missouri.

Parker Hannifin maintains a very small testing and lab facility in one corner of the New Haven building.

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