Automotive supplier dlhBowles is closing its assembly plant in Carrollton, a small Ohio city southeast of Canton, but a local economic development official is upbeat about luring future plastics-related companies to Carroll County — which is located in a region home to fracking.
The company notified state officials Aug. 8 that the plant was laying off 94 people and would close the plant by March 31.
The private equity-owned dlhBowles formed in mid-2015, when Morganthaler Private Equity purchased Canton-based DLH Industries Inc. and merged it with another company it owned, Bowles Fluidics Corp. in Columbia, Md.
John Saxon, CEO of dlhBowles, did not immediately respond to emailed questions. Another company official, in Columbia, could not be reached for comment.
The supplier makes components for handling automotive fluids, such as hoses and nozzles for windshield washer systems, which are then turned into finished assemblies. The company also has expanded into other automotive areas such as actuation systems for turbochargers, vacuum brake-assist assemblies and the growing market of special washing systems for cameras and sensors in cars.
For Carroll County, the dlhBowles factory closure is the third recent shutdown. Atkore International closed its Heritage Plastics plant at the end of 2016 — cutting 75 jobs at the PVC pipe and conduit extruder. Carrollton resident Charles McCort founded Heritage Plastics in 1992 and sold the company to Atkore in 2013.
Tait Carter, Carroll County economic development director, said a grocery store closing cost 70 more jobs in February, but she is optimistic about luring future plastics companies. The small county also is beefing up its infrastructure and plant locations. The old Heritage Plastics plant is attractive, since it's already set up for plastics processing, she said.
Carroll County also is well-placed in the Utica shale region, near a large processing plant and hub in Scio, Ohio, and the future plastics and petrochemicals cracking plant that Shell Chemicals plans to build in Monaca, Pa.
And a 215-mile pipeline will run through Carroll County to bring ethane gas from a processing facility in Cadiz, Ohio, to an existing pipeline that crosses into Michigan, and then on to Nova Chemicals Corp.'s cracker complex in Windsor, Ontario, where they will be turned into plastics.
Carter said the pipeline, Scio hub and ongoing fracking operations could help lure more manufacturing, including plastics, to Carroll County.
"A lot of downstream companies are interested in locating along the ethane line," she said.
Carroll County officials exhibited at a petrochemical conference in Pittsburgh in June. The message, she said: Get the county in shape to attract future factories.