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West Side Stalwart Voss Industries Buys Berea Plant

Mar 25, 2019

By Stan Bullard, Crain's

Voss Industries LLC, a manufacturer of clamps and related items for aerospace and associated uses, is preparing to move its 267 jobs and $11 million yearly payroll from its Cleveland plant to Berea.

The unit of Fullerton, Calif.-based Consolidated Aerospace Manufacturing LLC confirmed in an email to Crain's that it plans to relocate to a more modern plant at 1000 West Bagley Road. The current facility is at 2168 West 25th St.

"We do not know yet whether we will retain a presence in Ohio City, mostly due to variables in growth and acquisition, but it would be desired to be in a single location," the email said.

Voss said it needed room to expand to meet anticipated demand for its products. The company said it was unable to find a vacant, modern plant in Cleveland that met its needs.

The location of its Ohio City home, should Voss vacate it fully, would put a major property into play on the southern edge of the West 25th entertainment district.

Voss is in a large, four-story building with a total of 239,000 square feet of office and industrial space. It also uses two large parking lots nearby for its employees. Voss has been on the site since 1957, and the main element of the structure dates from the 1930s.

The Voss email said, "The city of Berea welcomed us and provided support to help make the project work for both our company and the local community."

Voss confirmed the move after the empty 95,000-square-foot building on 16 acres at 1000 W. Bagley was purchased Wednesday, March 13, by Bagley Road LLC for an undisclosed amount from 1000 W. Bagley Road LLC, according to Cuyahoga County online property records.

The seller is an affiliate of Premier Development LLC, a real estate ownership and development firm in Cleveland, land records show.

The Premier affiliate had paid $3.35 million to buy the single-story building from Eaton Aeroquip LLC, a unit of Eaton Corp., on Nov. 30, 2017. Eaton had shed about 100 jobs in 2016 when it shut the hydraulics plant in Berea.

Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem said in a phone interview that he is excited about the company moving to his town because its workforce is so much larger than Eaton had in the structure.

Kleem said the city provided an income tax incentive to Voss after the company contacted the suburb and said it was looking at a property in the suburb south of Cleveland.

"When we found out they were looking to leave Cleveland and were looking at a Berea location, we were very excited to work with them," Kleem said. "We don't actively pursue any company to leave another community. In this case, I see it as keeping the company and jobs in the county and state."

The legislation Berea City Council adopted Feb. 19, providing the income tax incentive, said Voss also might have expanded to an out-of-state location.

The suburb agreed to remit to Voss 1.2% of the city's 2% income tax annually as well as provide a utility grant, due to substantial investments in upgrading the building's electrical system, three years after the company moves into Berea. The incentives total $561,000 over 10 years, according to city documents.

The income tax incentive is also based on the company adding employees so its staff grows by 58 workers and its payroll increases to $17 million three years after it sets up shop in the suburb.

If Voss meets all the requirements, the mayor of Berea may forgive the company from repaying the incentive in 2029.

The legislation indicates Voss intends to invest about $5 million in construction, new equipment, moving and other costs not including the building's purchase price.

Voss said it expects to be operating in Berea in a year or 18 months.

The existing Voss plant and headquarters is not owned by the company. Instead, its owner is Apocalypse Development LLC of Cleveland, which was formed by former executives of Voss and at least one of their estates.

Tom McNair, executive director of the Ohio City Inc. nonprofit local development corporation, refused to speculate on potential uses of the Voss building until he receives formal notice the company will exit the neighborhood.

"Voss has been a valued longtime tenant in the neighborhood," McNair said. "If it does leave, we'll be happy to work with whoever took over that property and ensure it would be a productive use for the neighborhood."

The Voss email said the company manufactures highly engineered products for the aerospace, defense and industrial markets. Its products have been designed for use on the space shuttle, as well as major commercial aerospace and military platforms. Among its products are clamps, couplings and flanges.

The company said it is currently recruiting to fill jobs in design engineering, manufacturing engineering and continuous improvement, as well as welding, computer-controlled machining and maintenance.

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