MIDDLEBURY — Standing among sheets of metal that will be fitted onto pontoon boats, trucks and recreational vehicles, the head of Champagne Metals seemed optimistic about opening the company’s newest plant in the heart of “aluminum country.”
Champagne Metals, an aluminum service center and processor, celebrated its grand opening Wednesday, Nov. 6, at its plant covering 85,000 square feet in the Greenfield Industrial Park in Middlebury just north of the Indiana Toll Road. The company owns 17 acres of land, which is enough room to double the size of the plant in the future.
Champagne Metals, headquartered in Glenpool, Okla., specializes in preparing aluminum sheets and coils for RVs, truck trailers and boats. Touring the company’s new plant, Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County president Dorinda Heiden-Guss felt a “sense of accomplishment.”
“It’s heartwarming in the sense that people are employed,” she said. “The EDC of Elkhart County is all about job creation and quality jobs, and so this is a quality environment and this is clearly state of the art.”
The Elkhart County Council granted a nine-year property tax phase-in to Champagne Metals in 2012 to offset the company’s costs for expansion. In exchange, the company vowed to create 39 new full-time jobs in addition to investing $4.9 million for redevelopment and $5.3 million for new manufacturing equipment, furniture and technology.
Champagne said the manufacturing industry has not fully recovered from the economic slump, but he believes an upswing is imminent.
“We plan on being very important to the manufacturers here,” he said. “No one has been willing to do that, spend that investment that we’ve done, and we’re very proud of that.”