FORT WAYNE – A local employer hopes second time’s the charm for its workforce expansion plans.
Group Delphi is investing up to $11.8 million to build and equip a Midwest division headquarters southwest of Fort Wayne.
The designer and builder of exhibits for trade shows and museums expects to create 68 jobs by the end of 2017.
Group Delphi, which employs 35 locally, will build on undeveloped land at Zubrick and Silverado roads near the General Motors Co. truck assembly plant. Groundbreaking is expected in January.
Company officials plan to consolidate operations, now spread across five Fort Wayne locations, into a 200,000-square-foot building designed to accommodate a 100,000-square-foot addition. The first phase – including equipment – is estimated to cost more than $7.32 million.
The first 200,000 square feet is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. Hiring will begin then for positions including engineers, project managers, estimators, sales support, production and warehousing workers.
Annual wages for all positions will average about $41,000 a year, according to a company filing with Allen County.
Anyone interested in a job may email the company at FWresume@GroupDelphi.com.
If all goes well after the operation consolidates and ramps up, construction crews will move on to the second phase, said Matt Fortney, vice president and general manager.
We’re definitely out of space, and really it restricts our ability to do more work, he said.
Fortney prefers a conservative approach when talking about Group Delphi’s expansion plans.
In anything that we do as an organization, we don’t like to overpromise and underdeliver, he said.
The company, formerly known as Icon Exhibits, was founded in Fort Wayne by Michael Parrott in 1945. It adopted the Group Delphi name and designated Alameda, Calif., as its headquarters after it merged with Alameda-based Delphi Productions in March 2009.
The blue-and-orange reading tower in the children’s section of the Allen County Public Library is an example of the company’s interior work.
Other customers include Franklin Electric Co., Do it Best Corp., Tuthill Corp., Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, Voss Automotive Inc. and Peg Perego.
Group Delphi’s last major local investment was in 2009, when officials announced plans for a $4.3 million, 20,000-square-foot building addition at 8333 Clinton Park Drive.
The construction project was completed on schedule, but the company failed to fulfill its projection of 60 new jobs by 2012. It employed 41 locally at that time.
Fortney said the recession hit the company’s customers, temporarily reducing demand for Group Delphi’s services. But the company still needed additional space to store exhibits for some customers.
Because it didn’t create the anticipated jobs, Group Delphi didn’t collect tax abatements approved in 2009, Fortney said.
The company has applied to Allen County officials for tax savings on its latest project. If approved, the abatements would save the company an estimated $1,025,000 on land and $42,500 on equipment over 10 years.
The new investment is expected to create some of the jobs first proposed four years ago, Fortney said.
It’s a very, very similar idea as we had back then, he said. But now we’re able to bring it to fruition.