Maverick Industries closes deal to purchase former Kaneka Texas plant in Blackman Township; 90 jobs expected to be created
By Chris Gautz
Jackson Citizen Patriot
When Kaneka Texas closed its doors last year, it left 50 people without work and left unoccupied one of Jackson County's most prime pieces of industrial real estate.
Before production ceased in August 2008, a variety of state and local officials worked to find a buyer and spent nearly all year securing the financing.
On Tuesday, the long-awaited deal was finalized when Maverick Industries purchased the Blackman Township facility off I-94, at 4335 County Farm Road and plans to begin operations next month. Maverick is expected to hire 90 people, including some who had worked at Kaneka, within five years.
Scott Fleming, president and CEO of The Enterprise Group, Jackson County's economic-development organization, led the initiative and marketed the building for Kaneka. He said he showed it to close to 40 companies who considered purchasing it.
"We had to kiss a lot of frogs, and we found a prince to come in," Fleming said of Maverick.
Tom Grace, Maverick's executive vice president and CEO, said his company will be one of the largest steam chest molding facilities in North America, designing and producing packaging solutions for a variety of high-growth industries.
At a luncheon Tuesday, Fleming brought together a number of the key players in the deal to extend his thanks.
Steven Skarke, site manager and senior vice president of operations for Kaneka, surprised everyone in attendance when he handed Fleming a check for $50,000 as a thank-you donation for all the EG's hard work.
Skarke read a letter from Kaneka President Shinji Mizusawa and said they hoped the EG will be able to use the money to continue to attract business to the area.
"It was a difficult decision to close down and anything that we could do to keep employment in the area and keep some of these folks working was going to be a win-win situation," Skarke said.
Fleming said he wished there were more companies like Kaneka around to work with. He said because the company left nearly $16 million worth of the plant's equipment, office furniture and computers in the facility, it made it more attractive to sell.
Kaneka spent eight years at the Blackman Township plant making energy absorbers" the foam between the plastic and metal bumper pieces" for the automotive industry.
U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, who assisted in the deal, said he was pleased to hear of the company's donation.
"This is a very wonderful Christmas present," Schauer said.
Fleming said he was also thankful for the efforts of state Rep. Mike Simpson, who died Friday after suffering a heart attack.
"Mike was part of it, too," Fleming said.
Special thanks to John Waldron and Bill Jors of County National Bank as they assisted with financing a major portion of the project.