Legislators and economic development experts in Ohio are applauding an announcement by Vinyl Kraft Inc. that it will invest $2.25 million in its Scioto County facility. Ryan Rolfe, the company’s executive vice president, says the investment will double throughput at the facility with modifications to the way insulating glass units (IGUs) are manufactured, as well as see the hiring of rehabilitated citizens for open production roles.

Vinyl Kraft, a manufacturer of vinyl replacement doors and windows, is already the largest manufacturing employer in Scioto County, according to a JobsOhio news release. The new investment will add 73 additional jobs to the company’s roster, all of which will go to “restored citizens.” Vinyl Kraft received a $50,000 JobsOhio Workforce Grant to assist with the project, with the money set for funding the improvement of worker skills and abilities. The company was also awarded a Job Creation Tax Credit by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority.

“Vinyl Kraft has been an integral member of Scioto County’s economy for more than 30 years and we are excited about this expansion,” says Robert Horton, executive director of the Scioto County Economic Development Department. “Vinyl Kraft’s commitment to expanding in the county and the additional employment opportunities that will be available as a result of this expansion are excellent news for our entire region.”

According to Rolfe, Vinyl Kraft began the grant process at a time of “unprecedented” backlogs, some as long as 16 weeks. Extra shifts were even added to meet the high demand for products. Now, the company will add new equipment to double the facility’s throughput and add automation.

“It’s very specific to one line,” Rolfe says. “We are adding a shift to that line, which in and of itself wouldn’t double the throughput. But, in order to do that we had to make some changes in the way we manufacture our IGUs for some efficiency purposes. On the equipment side, we’re adding some GED equipment, like salt processing stations, to help speed things along.”

The company’s decision to hire rehabilitated citizens for new open positions is two-fold, Rolfe says. First, there’s the recognition of the opioid epidemic and its impacts on the area.

“Part of it is that a reasonable amount of the general labor population here in our area, the Ohio Valley, was hit really hard by the opioid epidemic in the 2000s,” he says. “So, there’s still a lot of shrapnel from that, folks who have dealt with addiction or whose parents have dealt with addiction. We can either ostracize these folks or understand they need a second chance.”

As it turns out, that decision has proved fruitful for both parties.

“We made a concerted effort in the mid-2000s to not exclude them from our hiring process,” Rolfe says. “In turn what we’ve found is they make for very loyal employees when you give them that second chance. They appreciate the structure and being held accountable by teammates. It makes a very good partnership.”

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