Sustained growth

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Since moving to Noblesville three years ago, SMC plans $19M expansion and continued job creation

Three years ago, SMC Corporation of America moved from 30th Street and Franklin Road in Indianapolis. The relocation was an important economic move to the city, as SMC had looked outside of Indiana to relocate its North American corporate headquarters. After moving to Noblesville, SMC consolidated its facilities in Canada and Los Angeles.

“We were busting at the seams,” explained Director of Operations Kelley Stacy. “We were totally out of space.”

SMC is the largest private employer in the City of Noblesville.

In 2008, the company had 458 employees in its $30-million, 627,500-square-foot building. In September, the company purchased approximately $5.5 million worth of new equipment as employment increased to 610 people.

“We had no intention of expanding this soon,” said Stacy. “It is a surprise, but within our plan.”

This summer, the Japanese company is expanding its facility at 10100 SMC Blvd. by 600,000 square feet. Officials said the expansion cost is approximately $19 million. The 600,000-square-foot addition will be constructed at both the east and west sides of the current building. Chad Bosler, director of production at SMC, said 360,000 square feet would be used for production space and 240,000 square feet would be for warehousing.

“We have 900,000 square feet under roof now, and after the addition, it will be 1.5 million square feet,” Bosler said.

As part of the construction, Bosler said SMC plans to add 163 new jobs by 2017. He said the average wage with benefits for those positions would be $62,732 per year.

“We need to expand (the) facility to keep inventory in one place,” Stacy said.

Construction is expected to begin in May and be completed by September, just in time for the company’s October meeting, which will include 200 customers from Europe, Brazil and other nations.

“It’s very important to them (customers) to see our facility,” Stacy said.

SMC is a global pneumatic technology developer and manufacturer. Chief Operating Officer Yoshiki Takada explained most of SMC’s products use compressed air pneumatics to automate production.

“There are tons of uses, and we find more every day,” he said. “You don’t see it, but it is used every day. We are in every single industry.”

The Expansion

Cost: Approximately $19 million.

Size: 600,000 square feet – 360,000 square feet for production and 240,000 square feet for warehousing.

Timetable: Construction began in May and will be completed by September.

Impact: SMC plans to add 163 new jobs by 2017 with the space increase.

Financing: SMC received a 10-year tax phase-in by the Noblesville Common Council. The terms of the tax phase-in allow SMC to gradually pay taxes on its construction while the city receives property taxes on land that would otherwise be undeveloped. In the first year, no money is collected. The phase-in gradually increases from $26,289 in the second year to $499,498 in the 10th and final year. Noblesville will collect $2,655,224 during the 10-year phase-in. SMC will save $2,602,646 in property taxes with the phase-in.

Some of the industries most utilizing SMC products are medicine, food and packaging, manufacturing and distribution, chillers – and most recently, the mining industry. Takada said SMC has 600,000 variations of its products and was just named best supplier by GE Medical. With the leadership of Stacy and Takada, the company aspires to reach $1 billion in annual sales and double the company’s market share in the coming years.

A global traveler, Takada said he enjoys how laid back and friendly Noblesville residents and Midwesterners are.

“They have very good work ethics,” he said. “There are nice people here.”

SMC employs 130 engineers in Noblesville and is working with Noblesville Schools and Mayor John Ditslear’s Community Vision for Excellence to better prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

“We believe manufacturing is big and needs to be taught,” Takada said.

“Kids need to be engineers, so we bring them here,” added Stacy. “We need good engineers modifying products.”

The Workforce Development Council’s mission is to prepare a workforce ready to immediately and positively contribute in today’s business environment. SMC provides a Career Week with engineering, accounting, human resources and information technology departments participating so all students understand what it is expected in the workplace – especially attendance and being on time. SMC also has students intern during the summer.

“They’re (students) learning and it’s great for both of us,” said Stacy. “It’s our job because we know what we are getting from schools.”

Plant Manager Chris Abriani has worked for SMC since two days after he graduated from Indiana State University.

“Everyone likes working here,” he said. “It’s a healthy company that’s growing.”

Abriani explained SMC’s warehouse is divided into two areas – manufacturing and distribution. He said 10 percent of what SMC sells is manufactured in Noblesville. The rest is imported from SMC locations across the world, stored and sent to distributors. Abriani said SMC’s products are not sold directly, but through distributors and Amazon.com.

The manufacturing side, which houses more than 40,000 part numbers, specializes in modifying standard products.

“We’re a very customized facility and we deal with very small order sizes,” said Abriani. “There’s a lot of training on how to build specialties … we see something different every order.”

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