HUNTINGDON - The leadership of Huntingdon Fiberglass Products welcomed local leaders, staff members and media Tuesday to tour the facility in celebration of the company's recent expansion.
Pa. Secretary of Community and Economic Development C. Alan Walker was the guest of honor, and he told the group of about 40 people that he thinks the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania is seeing a resurgence.
"Western Pennsylvania, in particular, is going to be a major manufacturing hub going forward," Walker said.
Mirror photo by Paige Minemyer
Huntingdon Fiberglass Products is the only source of fiberglass mat in the U.S., which is produced on three lines at its facility.
The Huntingdon facility was purchased in October to save it. The sale prevented 54 layoffs. The site is now co-owned by Huntingdon Fiberglass and Stonewood Capital Management.
Plant manager Paul Geist said the facility has more growth opportunities in the pipeline, and leaders are committed to creating 18 jobs over the next three years.
Huntingdon Fiberglass is the only producer of fiberglass mat in the country - which is used in a variety of industries, including automotive - and they are working to develop new products and create new applications for what they currently produce.
"If we are successful in those, that means more jobs for Huntingdon," Geist said.
On Tuesday, the facility was running two of its mat production lines simultaneously for the first time in three years, said Kyle Frank, vice president for operations.
Frank said only one-third of the 19 acre facility is currently being used, leaving plenty of room for expansion.
"We've got a lot of irons in the fire, and any one of them could hit," he said.
Geist said the building has been in Huntingdon since the early 1940s and at one time employed nearly 2,000 people. Going into the national recession, the plant employed about 450 people, but lost more than 350 of those employees when the recession hit.
Along with producing fiberglass mat, the facility also operates two "niche businesses," Frank said, which could also see some growth, though the markets are small.
According to a release from the DCED, Huntingdon Fiberglass was given a funding proposal from the state that included at $32,000 grant to help train its new employees. Additional grants included a $150,000 stipend to help facilitate job creation and $36,000 in job creation tax credits.
Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7535.