Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 24, 2014

The rebirth of Delta Faucet's plant

By Boris Ladwig Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – In early 2013, Delta Faucet Co. employees in Greensburg worried about their jobs. They had seen, over the last few years, the number of jobs at the local plant, on the city’s southwest side, dwindle from more than 1,000 to just over 100.

Plant Manager Scott Wesseler said talk among the workers — and community members as a whole — often dealt with the plant’s future — and likely demise.

But a recovery in the housing market, greater efficiency in the local plant and a decision by Delta’s parent company to diversify the local production has effected a renaissance that has nearly tripled the company’s jobs in Greensburg.

Marc Coplon, executive director of the Greensburg/Decatur County Economic Development Corp., said that city officials learned in spring 2013 that Delta’s parent company, Taylor, Mich.-based Masco Corp., planned to add jobs to the local operations.

“That was great news,” Coplon said.

Coplon and Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert reached out to Delta officials to see if they could provide any assistance.

So last year, Delta Faucet invested about $12 million into the plant, which dates back to the late 1950s, to modernize the processes of putting a finish on faucet components and to add production of tubs for baths and showers, Wesseler said.

“Everybody kind of breathed a sigh of relief,” he said.

Today, the plant’s roughly 350 employees work with a sense of optimism. With wages starting at $14, few jobs remain unfilled.

Wesseler said that on one hand, the local plant’s rebirth has its origin in a narrower focus of capabilities related to faucet components — but also a broadening of its product mix.

A decade ago, the local plant produced, finished and assembled faucet parts. Today it focuses solely on finishing, or putting chrome, stainless steel or any of 14 such finishes over the components. The components, made primarily from zinc and brass substrate, are manufactured elsewhere and shipped to Greensburg. The finished components are shipped from Greensburg to other plants for final assembly.

Wesseler said Delta focuses on high-quality products, and the local employees have built a reputation for quality and efficiency.

“We have shown … that we were able to drive improvements,” he said.

Finishing a part now takes a day, down from three days a few years earlier, Wesseler said. Part of that reduction was the result of rearranging processes within the plant and eliminating the boxing of parts before they are moved to another station to be unboxed, each time with employees handling the components. Today, a lot of the parts are moved onto racks by machines and quickly transferred to the next processing area.

And through the years of employment decline, as processes were moved to other plants within the Delta family, the 384,000-square-foot local plant also had enough space to accommodate more capacity — and a completely different product: tubs for baths and showers.

About a third of the plant’s employees now work in a revamped area of the plant that features large new machines that turn thin sheets of plastic into durable tubs and baths that people can buy at home improvement stores.

To convince the company to bring those jobs to Greensburg, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. provided training grants and tax credits, so long as the company hires Hoosiers. Decatur County Council approved five-year tax abatement, which phases in the property taxes the company has to pay on its new investments. In the first year, the company pays no taxes on the assessed valuation of the new building upgrades and machinery, but with each subsequent year, the company pays 20 percent more of the tax bill than in the prior year so that in the second year it pays 20 percent, in the third year 40 percent and so on, until in the sixth year, it pays the full tax bill for that year.

For Greensburg and Decatur County, gaining jobs in a sector other than automotive also proved important, because it better insulates the local economy from shocks to any particular industry.

Coplon said the operative word in Delta’s resurgence is “confidence.” The expansion showed the parent company’s confidence in the business environment and the Greensburg employees — but it also helped boost the confidence of Greensburg and Decatur County as good places to live and work. Delta’s reputation, too, is helping to that end.

“You know, you’re proud of that,” Coplon said. “Honda and Delta Faucet in this small and growing community, that’s impressive.”

Contact: Boris Ladwig 812-663-3111 x7401; boris.ladwig@greensburgdailynews.com