GC excited for Cooper takeover

HALL INDUSTRIES | Contributed Hall Industries’ production is underway at the former Cooper Industrial Commons, in Grove City. The Grove City operation produces what are known in the railroad industry as rotary rail car dumpers, equipment that can turn railroad cars over to allow material such as coal or grain to be quickly unloaded.

GROVE CITY – The new owners of the the former Cooper Industries plant in Grove City know how important the property is to the community, based on the feedback they’ve been receiving.

“We take it all to heart,” said Tony Kaper, vice president of Hall Industries, which is based in Beaver County.

He spoke at Monday night’s Grove City borough council meeting along with Gary Dovey, vice president of business development for Penn-Northwest Development Corp., and Don Perry, owner of Compliance Environmental Services.

The company closed on the property in December, and improvements will be made to help Hall Industries manufacture large parts for things like coal barges and trains, Kaper said.

The next phase of the project includes a continuation of an environmental study of the property.

So far, things don’t look too bad as far as cleanup goes, and they will be coordinating with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the men said.

They will have to do some additional testing to ensure that any residual contamination is of no concern to health, environment and water supplies.

Hall Industries is determined to move forward to make the property commercially viable, especially since the company has already put money into the project, Kaper said.

There have been some hurdles, but Dovey and his crew have been very helpful.

“The building fits what we wanted to do,” Kaper said.

It’s gratifying to see this happening, said Mercer County Commissioner Scott Boyd, who noted that some of this relatives had worked for the former Cooper Bessemer.

The borough is excited to have Hall Industries in town, Grove City Mayor Randy Riddle said.

The company expects to create 57 jobs over three years, Kaper told The Herald last week.

The overall deal is valued at $12 million, according to Penn-Northwest, which is Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.

Hall Industries bought the entire building complex, which totals 468,000 square feet on 28 acres, for around $3.2 million. Improvements and repairs to the sprawling complex along with new equipment will amount to about another $9 million.

The deal includes a $114,000 state grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development for workforce training, plus a $723,000 Pennsylvania First grant and $2.65 million in loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.

For generations, the plant at 180 Lincoln Ave. in the borough had housed what become Cooper Industries, which produced compressors for gas and other industries. Cooper closed the plant decades ago, and the site has been used as a multi-tenant industrial dwelling that was privately owned.

The complex as an industrial park was called Cooper Industrial Commons but will become Cooper Commons LLC under the new ownership.

Under Hall’s plans, the site will continue to have existing tenants, Kaper said.

“And we want to improve other areas to house other businesses in the near future,’’ he added.

Hall Industries was founded in 1966 by Harold Hall, an engineer and World War II veteran, and still is owned by the Hall family.

In Pennsylvania the company has operations in Ellwood City, at Pittsburgh International Airport, at Philadelphia International Airport and in Canonsburg, Washington County. It also has operations in South Carolina, Florida, New York, Alabama, Virginia and internationally in the Czech Republic.

Hall Industries scouted several locations for the project but picked Grove City.

“I’ve been familiar with the site for some time as our business has grown,’’ Kaper told The Herald last week. Kaper lives in Sandy Lake, a 15-minute drive from Grove City. “We’re very excited about this project.’’

Herald Business Editor Michael Roknick contributed to this article.

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