Lewco picks Ottawa County for $12M expansion


A well-established Northwest Ohio manufacturing company has announced plans to expand its operations into Ottawa County.

Lewco, Inc., recognized as a world-class manufacturer of industrial ovens and unit handling conveyors, will take over a large portion of a historic facility in the Lake Erie Business Park. The company will invest nearly $12 million and create 163 new positions to support its significant growth being driven by e-commerce.

With offers made to expand outside Ohio, the business chose instead to reaffirm its commitment to the region by investing and revitalizing an older structure in Port Clinton.

“Although there was pressure from outside of Ohio, it was important to our team and families that the rapidly growing business expansion stay here in Ohio and specifically in our region,” said Ron Guerra, president of LEWCO Inc. “We greatly appreciate JobsOhio and Ottawa County’s efforts to help make that a reality.”

Lewco has a long history in Northwest Ohio, originally founded in 1917 in Sandusky as the Ohio Welding Company. Maintaining its headquarters in Sandusky, the company now employs 168 people.

The company is moving into a 756,000-square-foot structure with a history going back more than 75 years. It was built in 1942 by the U.S. Army and served as the Erie Army Ordinance Depot during and after World War II. During that time, tanks and other large military equipment were brought there by railroad to be serviced and repaired. Since being sold by the federal government to private investors, the building has served as the home to several businesses almost exclusively in the manufacturing sector.

JobsOhio has provided substantial support toward the project with grants to help offset revitalization and renovation of the building, as well as dollars for new machinery and equipment.

“JobsOhio has developed aggressive, business-friendly programs to support corporate growth and investment as well as dynamic programs to help communities rejuvenate sites,” said Dean Monske, president and CEO of the Regional Growth Partnership. “As the Northwest Ohio network partner for JobsOhio, we are pleased to work in collaboration with the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. in facilitating this expansion for Lewco.”

The company also received approval for a Job Creation Tax Credit from the Ohio Tax Credit Authority under the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Manufacturing continues to serve as an economic driver for Northwest Ohio, with businesses investing nearly $84 million into operations and creating almost 900 new jobs in just the third quarter. And the Ottawa County region has a robust manufacturing base, with companies representing such diverse fields as advanced materials, polymers and advanced manufacturing.

“We are excited to be a part of this new project and the jobs it will create here in Ottawa County,” said Chris Singerling, director of the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. “This is one more great example of what happens when a committed local business works with regional partners to achieve the mutually beneficial goals of job creation and business expansion here in Ohio.”

Revitalization of the building is expected to be completed sometime near mid-2021.

“Having LEWCO in nearby Lake Erie Industrial Park will significantly contribute to a strong economic climate for Oak Harbor residents,” said Oak Harbor Mayor Quinton Babcock. “We commend LEWCO for choosing to reaffirm its commitment to Northwest Ohio and thank JobsOhio, the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. and the Regional Growth Partnership for helping make this economic opportunity a reality.”