Wolfpack Chassis LLC coming to Kendallville
New industry, jobs coming to Kendallville
By Dennis Nartker
Friday, November 16, 2012, 1:00am
KENDALLVILLE — A startup industry potentially creating more than 100 high-paying jobs is coming to Kendallville.
Wolfpack Chassis LLC president and CEO Robert Frost announced Thursday he plans to lease the vacant Reliable Products Machining and Welding Co. building at 800 Weston Avenue to manufacture chassis and chassis components for the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle industries.
Frost briefly outlined his business plan to Kendallville Economic Development Advisory Committee members while seeking tax abatements on improvements to the building and new equipment.
The committee unanimously recommended that Wolfpack Chassis LLC receive 10 years of sliding abatement on $508,000 in real property and approximately $1.4 million in personal property (equipment). The recommendations will go to the City Council Tuesday night for final approval.
Wolfpack Chassis would receive 100 percent tax abatement in the first year, decreasing to 10 percent in the final year. The company is projected to save about $141,827 in taxes over the 10 years based on a 2011 tax rate of $2.6009.
Frost told the EDAC he is ready to get started immediately on renovations to the building that include new overhead doors, monorails and support structures, an electrical upgrade and a paint booth installation. New equipment then will be installed.
Wolfpack Chassis plans to employ welders, service technicians, metal fabricators, maintenance personnel, engineers and a sales staff. “By focusing exclusively on chassis products we can offer our customers value added solutions,” said Frost after the meeting. In addition to towable RV and manufactured housing frames, Wolfpack plans to provide other innovative chassis related components, including slide-out mechanisms.
The manufacturing will be phased in as business grows, he said. The potential exists for creating 118 jobs with an average pay of $46,536 and an annual payroll of $5.5 million when fully operational. Company headquarters will be in Kendallville.
The company will need axles, and Reliable and Dexter Axle are two Noble County companies that could supply Wolfpack, he said.
“We see a lot a growth for the business,” said Frost, who formerly worked for Navistar in the chassis design department. “We have a good business plan and a strong board of directors.”
The company’s website cites 30 years of combined experience in chassis design, development and manufacturing among its investors.
Frost said the cooperation he received from Kendallville and Noble County was a factor in why he chose Kendallville. The Noble County Economic Development Corp.’s Rick Sherck, the Kendallville Local Development Corp., Mayor Suzanne Handshoe and Region IIIA assisted Frost and his investors.
Wolfpack Chassis also looked at locations in LaGrange County and Elkhart County and incentive packages from their economic development entities, Frost said.
Handshoe said she hopes Wolfpack Chassis will use the Four County Area Vocational Cooperative and Freedom Academy when seeking employees.
“The company has a strong and experienced management team with a vision of becoming the world-leading chassis provider and creating long-term business and employment opportunities within Kendallville and Noble County,” Frost said in the company’s tax abatement application.