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Keller Logistics, Pilkington plan northwest Ohio expansions

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on December 12, 2023.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

Local companies involved in two of the area’s biggest industries — glass and logistics — have expansion plans under way.

Defiance-based Keller Logistics Group Inc. and affiliated companies expect to create 194 jobs through the $5 million purchase and expansion of a two-year-old office building in Defiance that formerly housed Mammoth Tech Inc.

Keller CEO Bryan Keller said about 125 employees spread between offices at three locations in Defiance would be consolidated at the new headquarters early next year when the space is finished being reconfigured.

In Rossford, NSG Group is putting in a specialty production line at its Pilkington North America float glass plant to support the growth of solar panel production at customer First Solar Inc.

Pilkington is converting a float glass line to produce transparent conductive oxide glass that is shipped to First Solar as a specially prepped glass panel to be further coated to conduct sunlight for conversion to electricity.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar is the largest solar-panel maker in the United States. It has three plants in northwest Ohio with a fourth scheduled to open next year. NSG’s Pilkington North America is the key supplier of the glass panels used in First Solar’s finished products.

Todd Huffman, NSG Global Director of Solar Glass, said the plant will take the traditional architectural float glass line down in September, 2024, and retool it, with a new furnace and coating equipment, in time for production in March, 2025.

The plant, which was built in 1898, today employs 370 people. In addition to retaining all jobs, the production-line conversion will require another 20 employees, he said. The plant has two float glass lines.

Mr. Keller’s transportation and logistics business in Defiance has been growing rapidly and now has 750 employees in 12 states, he said. Along with logistics, the group includes warehousing, trucking, freight brokerage and Mr. Keller operates industrial properties.

Combined revenue has grown at a 20 percent annual rate to $165 million last year from $37 million in 2012, Mr. Keller said.

He said he was considering building a new headquarters for business and support staff just before the pandemic hit. He put that idea on hold, then the trucking industry recently went into recession with falling volumes at Keller as well as nationally, he said.

The opportunity to buy a fairly new building for the headquarters met the business’ needs so Mr. Keller said he went ahead with the purchase. It is 31,000 square feet vs. about 20,000 that is now spread between three locations in Defiance.

Mr. Keller said the 194 new jobs would be across the group’s many operations.

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved a 2.074 percent, nine-year Job Creation Tax Credit for the project.

JobsOhio and the Regional Growth Partnership provided support to the Keller headquarters project as well as NSG’s production line conversion.

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