Spec building snagged by auto supplier

April 10th, 2015

News Coverage:

Spec building snagged by auto supplier

Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2015 11:00 pm

By Linda Lipp

Topeka-based Nishakawa of America, a joint venture of Nishakawa Rubber Co. and Cooper Standard, has purchased the 60,000 northwest Fort Wayne spec building constructed in 2013-2014 by CME Corp.

The company, which does business as NISCO, will begin transferring work and workers from its plants in Topeka and Bremen as it finishes the interior of the shell building. Between June 1 and next March 1, the company expects employment there to grow to 170 to 220 people, said Mike Talaga, NISCO vice president and general manager.

The company used to have an operation in New Haven, but closed that in 2006 and consolidated work at its other facilities. It was a tough decision to make.

“We had a great workforce there,” Talaga said.

NISCO currently has about 225 employes who commute from the Fort Wayne area to its other sites, and 95 percent of the jobs created in Fort Wayne will be filled from their ranks, Talaga said.

“We’ve kind of moved the mountain to Mohammed,” he said.

The Persistence Drive spec building was one of a handful of shell buildings created in northeast Indiana in the last few years to satisfy what economic development groups saw as a gap in the type of structure needed by new and expanding businesses. It is the first of those buildings to find an occupant, said Fletcher Moppert, the broker with Zacher Co./CORFAC International who represented both the sellers, Wayne and Carol Klink, and the buyers in the transaction.

That says a lot about the quality and architectural design of the building, Moppert said.

“People appreciate that,” he said.

NISCO looked at six or seven sites in and around Fort Wayne. It chose the CME building because it was the best option and because “it’s centrally located for the area employees that already work for us,” Talaga said.

The seven-acre site is large enough that the building can be expanded by as much as another 90,000 square feet, he noted.

Moppert suggested to the Klinks that the best way to sell their industrial property might be to construct a spec building on the site. Although older buildings were on the market three years ago when CME and the Klinks approached the city about building something new, most didn’t have the high ceilings now required by many industrial and warehouse users.

In 2011, the Allen County Economic Development Alliance, now part of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., tracked 125 requests for building space from potential new employers. The alliance was unable to provide any existing building to satisfy 37 percent of those requests. There was not one single available, stand-alone building between 60,000 and 70,000 square feet with ceilings at least 20 feet high, the alliance said.

The CME spec building, in Interstate Park, has 30-foot ceilings.

NISCO manufactures sealing systems for automotive products. Its Topeka plant does injection molding and extrusion and the Bremen plant does finishing. The new Fort Wayne facility will do finishing work transferred from Bremen.

NISCO has 550 employees in Topeka, including administrative workers, and 600 in Bremen. The market for its components bottomed out in 2008 and 2009, as a result of the Great Recession, but has surged back with the recovering industry, Talaga said. It makes parts for some of the most popular vehicles on the market, including the Honda Accord and Civic and the Toyota Camry.

But, in sparsely populated LaGrange and Marshall counties, Talaga found, he “just can’t get enough people” due to the population.

NISCO purchased the spec building for $3 million. It also expects to make a considerable investment in finishing and fitting it out. The company will likely seek some economic incentives to help with all that, Talaga said.

Coincidentally, NISCO closed on its purchase of the new building on March 9, just a day after Vera Bradley, which had leased its former New Haven site in 2008, announced it was ending its operations there.

Although NISCO was formed as a 50/50 partnership, Nishakawa Rubber, based in Hiroshima, Japan, is now a 60-percent owner in the joint venture. Michigan-based Cooper Standard owns 40 percent.