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Chester Hoist brings 90 jobs to Salem

Firm opens 2nd area plant, ready to hire; officials help with site

February 23, 2010

SALEM - About 90 new jobs will be coming to Salem as part of a $2 million expansion of Columbus McKinnon Corp., the parent company of Chester Hoist Co. in Lisbon, over the next three years.

The jobs, according to Chester Hoist Division General Manager Bob Burkey will be tied to United Steel Workers of America wage scales, averaging about $17 per hour.

"It's very competitive," Burkey said adding the company has a full medical and dental coverage.

Article Photos

Mayor Jerry Wolford, left, and Chester Hoist Division General Manager Bob Burkey shake hands and chat after Columbus McKinnon Corp., based in Amherst, N.Y., announced it was moving into the Solartec facility on Pennsylvania Avenue starting today. The expansion will bring 90 “family-wage” paying jobs to the local economy and, according to Columbiana County Commissioner Penny Traina, it was largely a collaborative effort from the local government level up through the governor’s office. Traina is chairwoman for the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) which expedited a matching $75,000 Ohio Department of Development grant for Salem to facilitate the move with the help of OMEGA executive Director Greg L. DiDonato and Gov. Ted Strickland’s office. The Columbiana County Port Authority and Wolford were key players in facilitating the move along with the state. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)

The 75 employees at the Chester Hoist Lisbon plant will retain their jobs, Burkey said, adding they expect to have the majority of the 90 new Salem jobs filled by year end.

He said machinists, assemblers, engineers both mechanical and electrical, welders, inspectors and administration personnel are needed for two shifts which Burkey said they want operational in the 49,000 square foot facility in April.

"We start work tomorrow (Tuesday)," he said

Thirty CNC machines, some brand new and some used, along with vertical and horizontal milling machines and other heavy capital equipment are being transferred from a Muskegon, Mich., plant that was closed. A handful of managers from the Michigan operation are also being transferred.

The jobs will more than double the number of CMCO employees in Lisbon and Salem, the company said, and Burkey will oversee operations at both plants.

Gene Buer, president of Columbus McKinnon Corp., said, "Our Chester Hoist Division in Ohio has a long record of meeting or exceeding our customer's needs and expectations.

"In making our decision, we considered the quality, efficiency, productivity and customer-oriented culture of the workforce.

"In addition, our Ohio operations have an excellent safety culture and a strong leadership team. All are the right ingredients for success in today's demanding business environment.

"We were also very impressed with the level of local, county and state support we have received. The business environment was an important factor in our decision-making process."

The announcement was made during a Columbiana County Port Authority meeting held at the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce late Monday afternoon.

Tracy Drake, CEO of the Port Authority, said, "Columbus McKinnon's investment in Salem is recognition of the work we're doing to promote Ohio's most important economic asset ... our labor force.

"The strong working partnership between the state of Ohio, Columbiana County and the city of Salem helped to facilitate the location decision by their internationally respected company."

Salem Mayor Jerry Wolford said, "In these tough economic times, every job counts. We appreciate Columbus McKinnon and Chester Hoist for choosing to grow in our community. These are good family-wage jobs, and that's great news right now."

Wolford paid high credit to the Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association (OMEGA) which is headed by Executive Director Greg L. DiDonato and to Columbiana County Commissioner Penny Traina who is OMEGA's chairwoman.

OMEGA helped acquire a $75,000 matching grant from the Ohio Department of Development.

Last year, OMEGA, through Traina, approached Wolford asking if he had any projects it could help with and Wolford mentioned Buttermilk Creek across from Solartec and the new Butech Bliss property that has suffered from major flooding during heavy rains.

He was looking for money to dredge it and, at what Wolford called "the 11th hour," city council passed legislation for Salem to join OMEGA which is based in Cambridge.

It was a move that DiDonato said put the city on the OMEGA board and helped push the project quickly. Traina said it was "shocking" how quickly the collaboration worked.

DiDonato said the "company was lined up and the community was willing" adding that job creation was a big component.

Wolford recalled how important city council's action was while pointing out that "four weeks later we received the grant." He noted the effort crossed the "old party lines."

Port Authority board member Charlie Presley underscored that saying, "That's what it's all about. One hundred jobs ... a hundred jobs and the city, county and Port Authority - everyone went to bat and got behind it."

Wolford said, "It's just good news for the city. We need it and look forward to happening."

Drake called it a "pretty neat event" adding it was the type of action the Port Authority likes to "champion."

Burkey said, "We are proud that CMCO has chose to expand our Ohio operations, and we want to thanks them for their confidence in our people and our community.

"Much of the credit for this expansion goes to our people who have worked hard over the years to insure our continued success."

Burkey acknowledges the assistance of Wolford, Drake and the Port Authority and various state and local officials who offered their support.

"We also want to recognize the support and cooperation provided by Joe Holcomb of the USWA (United Steel Workers of America) and our local union," he said.

Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Director of the Ohio Department of Development, said, "Strategic, meaningful investments in targeted industries such as materials handling and logistics services are driving growth in our economy and creating jobs for Ohioans.

"Columbus McKinnon Corporation's decision to expand in Ohio is testament of the close collaboration of city, county, and regional stakeholders, as well as the talented workforce."

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null called it "very exciting" and introduced Larry Kosiba, the new executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center (SODC), which is part of the Salem Area Industrial Development Corp.

The company will be eligible for the city's tax incentive program which is open to companies creating 10 or more new jobs.

Auditor Jim Armeni said it was "definitely something the company might want to look into" and Tax Administrator Fred Pamer said the tax incentive is paid the following year in a equal amount to half the taxes paid on employment withholding and business profits.

As new employment positions are identified, they will be posted at the Columbiana County OneStop Work force Center in Lisbon. Applicants must apply at the OneStop Work Force Center located at 7860 Lincole Place in Lisbon. Openings are expected to begin immediately with a need to fill positions quickly.

Columbus McKinnon is a leading worldwide designer, manufacturer and marketer of material handling products, systems and services, which efficiently and ergonomically move, lift, position or secure material. Key products include hoists, cranes, actuators, chain and forged attachments. The company is focused on commercial and industrial applications that require the safety and quality provided by its superior design and engineering know-how. Columbus McKinnon routinely posts news and other comprehensive information on its web site at

Larry Shields can be reached at



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