Isolatek International Inc. plans $8M investment

June 1st, 2012

News Coverage:

Huntington Co. manufacturer plans $8M investment

RICK FARRANT - rfarrant@fwbusiness.com

Friday, Jun. 01, 2012 at 5:50am

A longtime Huntington County manufacturer of spray-applied building fire retardant will invest $8 million by the end of 2014 to replace two slag and coke furnaces with natural-gas cupolas, economic development officials said.

Mark Wickersham, executive director of Huntington County United Economic Development Corp., said the investment by Isolatek International Inc. will ensure retention of the plant and its 50 employees. He said environmental regulations and the diminishing availability of coke likely would have meant the end of Isolatek’s 30-year run in Huntington County.

“We would have lost all 50 jobs if they hadn’t been able to do this,” Wickersham said. “And the community would have been left with a 17-acre parcel that would have been almost impossible to redevelop.”

The natural-gas technology that will be employed by Isolatek was developed in Germany, and Wickersham said the local project represents the first time in the U.S. that the technology has been used for the so-called mineral wool industry.

Isolatek, said Wickersham, plans to install the natural-gas furnaces in phases, with the first cupola expected to be in place by October 31.

Incentives approved for the first phase, he said, include a 10-year tax abatement from the county, training money from the state, bonds from the federal government and $125,000 in County Economic Development Income Tax funds.

Beyond retaining the company and jobs that pay an average of $22 an hour, Isolatek’s investment also brings a number of other benefits.

“It accomplishes three things,” Wickersham said. “The energy source is much, much cleaner; the efficiency at which the furnaces will operate will be significantly improved, giving Isolatek long-term capacities for growth; and the cost associated with natural gas is radically cheaper than coke.”

Long-term capacities for growth could include hiring more employees, Wickersham said.