Channellock expansion

Channellock has been working to expand plant 2 on Mercer Pike in Vernon Township.

VERNON TOWNSHIP — A more than $10 million expansion for Channellock Inc. adding both more space and production capacity is expected to be completed by early January.

On Wednesday, the company was awarded $2.25 million in state loans through the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County. The $7.75 million in remaining funding will be from the company and bank financing, said Jon DeArment, Channellock Inc.'s president and chief operating officer.

The Meadville-based maker of world famous tongue and groove pliers and other hand tools is adding 35,000 square feet to an existing building along Mercer Pike. The additional space being added to the existing 64,427-square-foot building is earmarked for packaging, warehousing and shipping of finished hand tools.

New machinery and equipment will be added to Channellock's main plant on South Main Street for manufacturing of its new SpeedGrip line of tongue-and-groove pliers, DeArment said. The expansion and new product line projects were announced in June.

"Most of the steel (for the expansion) is up and the roof and insulation are going on," DeArment said Tuesday. "The walls are going up next week, so it will go pretty rapidly after that. We're looking to be in there around the first of the year."

"A lot of it will be warehousing, final inspection and packaging," DeArment said.

A potion of that work currently is outsourced to a New York firm, but it will be done in Meadville once the expansion is complete.

The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority awarded Channellock two different loans Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced.

One is a $1.25 million, 15-year PIDA real estate loan at a 1.75 reset interest rate for the building expansion. The other is a $1 million, 10-year PIDA machinery and equipment loan at a 2.75 percent fixed interest rate for manufacturing equipment. Both loans come via aid and backing from the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, the county's lead economic development agency.

"Jim (Becker) and Pat (Winsor) of the EPACC put together the info for a great (loan) package for us," DeArment said of Becker, the EPACC's executive director and Winsor, its director of loans and grants. "The Governor's Action Team was hugely helpful. We can't thank them enough." 

The project will retain Channellock's 360 full-time jobs.

"Hopefully we can continue to grow and add jobs," DeArment said. 

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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