Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 15, 2013

Toilet factory opening in Kokomo

Facility will create 140 new jobs over the next two years.

By Ken de la Bastide
Kokomo Tribune

---- — The former Kokomo Sanitary Pottery facility, which was closed in 2007, is receiving new life through the formation of Patriot Porcelain.The new company will be creating 140 jobs over the next two years and will manufacture high-quality sanitary products, including toilets and sinks.City and county officials will make an announcement of the new company locating in Kokomo today.Jeff Van Weelden and Dow Dellinger have been working for the past four years to open the facility and will be making a $16 million investment in the facility located on South Union Street.Van Weelden said the company has secured contracts with Gerber Plumbing Fixtures and Niagara Conservation to provide products. The Kokomo-produced toilets and sinks will be for sale in several major retail outlets.Patriot purchased the building last August and will be using much of the equipment in the facility with $11 million in new investments.Production is expected to start next June.Annual payroll is estimated at $4 million with an impact on the local economy of $300 million over the next decade, Van Weelden said.The city of Kokomo is providing $200,000 in incentives, or $2,000 for the hiring of each Howard County resident. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is providing payroll tax credits.The company will apply for five-year tax abatement on the new equipment that will be installed.Funding for the new company is being provided by First Farmers Bank and Truck and the city of Kokomo’s Revolving Loan Fund program.Van Weelden said many of the engineers and managers for Patriot Porcelain will be living in the Kokomo area.“We felt strongly about bringing jobs back to Kokomo,” he said. “It took us a year to get everything in place to determine we could be competitive.”Van Weelden said the Kokomo location was important in the investors' decision to reopen the plant.Expansion of the facility in the future is possible, he said.“We have three long-term contracts that will take the full capacity of the plant,” Van Weelden said. “Our contracts are for toilets.”Patriot Porcelain purchased the building from Gerber Global Union, which had maintained the building. Getting ready has required a substantial amount of clean-up, Van Weelden said.Van Weelden added many of the raw materials will come from Tennessee.Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said the city was aware that Patriot Porcelain had been working the past few years to reopen the manufacturing facility.“This is a big project,” he said. “There is a significant investment in non-automotive manufacturing jobs and is a reuse of an existing facility.”Goodnight said the plant is set up for this type of operation and was a unique opportunity for the community.The products will carry a “Made in America” stamp, the company said in a press release.“The centralized, modern production facility and up-to-date technology will allow it to provide customers with American-made products, product flexibility and quick response time to market demands, at a lower price than similar products now produced in China,” the company said.