By Kristin Rover
Just a year ago, officials with Huhtamaki, a global packaging manufacturer, announced that the company would be opening a manufacturing center in the former Ford plant in Batavia Township.
Today, the plant is up and running after months of renovations and preparations.
Richard Mills, director of operations at Huhtamaki in Batavia Township, stopped by the Batavia Township Trustee meeting March 10 to update trustees and residents on what they have been up to the past year.
“We closed in February of last year,” Mills said. “Two weeks after the governor was there, we started the building renovation.”
Mills said the extensive renovations included tearing off every inch of the roof, making extensive repairs to the floors, replacing 15 miles of sprinkler piping in the building, power washing all of the structures, using 30,000 gallons of paint, installing new lighting fixtures, and much more.
“The whole building is basically brand new, except for the structural steel,” Mills said.
He said the size and design of the plant allowed them to be flexible with the space, but they didn’t have to construct a brand new plant, which could have cost twice as much.
“We’ve spent well over tens-of-millions of dollars,” Mills said about the investment. “It has been a great project.”
In addition, Mills said they have hired more than 100 employees with most residing in Clermont, Brown and Adams counties.
“One of the exciting things has been coming to Clermont County and bringing 145 families work,” Mills said.
Mills said they have been pleased with the employees.
“We are very, very happy with the folks we’ve hired and happy with the services they provide,” he said.
Mills said they produced their first plastic cup at the plant in October.
He said the company currently sells cups from the facility to a variety of vendors in the food industry including Arby’s, Burger King, and more.
Mills said by the end of the year, they will be producing 1.5 billion cups annually from the plant.
He said they are planning for continued growth for the next two years as they expand at the site.
“We are very excited about what the rest of this year will bring, and in 2015,” Mills said.
Batavia Township Trustees thanked Mills for coming by to talk about the company.
Administrator Rex Parsons said while many think of the building as the old Ford plant, it has become much more, especially with the addition of Huhtamaki.
“We are so glad to have them in our community,” Parsons said.