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Expansion could add up to 60 jobs

February 06, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

After adding approximately 50 jobs since midsummer, a Williamsport area manufacturer could add up to 60 more jobs by the end of the year as it undergoes a $5.2 million expansion, the general manager said Thursday.

Demand for window balance system manufacturer Caldwell Manufacturing Company's products has increased significantly as the company has sold its wooden windows product line and expanded its vinyl windows products, General Manager Fletcher Smith said.

The company makes hardware that balances windows, or keeps them open, Smith said. The hardware is hidden in the window's framework.

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The shift in window manufacturers' demand from wooden windows to vinyl windows was dramatic in recent years as more vinyl windows are being installed in new construction, Smith said.

Last year, the Rochester, N.Y.-based company sold its hardware line for wooden windows, phasing the work out gradually to maintain its work force at the 9850 Prosperity Lane plant, Smith said.

The company's Jackson, Miss., plant ran out of space and equipment and couldn't keep up with demand for some of the vinyl hardware products so some of that work is being shifted to the local plant, Smith said.

Equipment for one production line already has been moved to the local plant in Interstate Industrial Park and another line soon will be moved, he said.

That will give the local plant three production lines for its block and tackle balancing system, Smith said.

The local plant also makes a constant force balancing system, he said.

The company is investing $5.2 million in new equipment, upgrades to old equipment and tooling, Smith said.

Caldwell employs approximately 120 people at the local plant, with 15 to 20 jobs expected to be added for the work company officials know is coming, Smith said.

If marketing for some new products takes off, the company could have 180 employees by the end of the year, Smith said.

The company is applying to the state for work force training money, Smith said.

Smith said the Prosperity Lane plant has enough space to accommodate the new production lines, but the parking lot might need to be expanded.

The stop and start times for the three shifts are being staggered so there's enough parking spaces for the employees, Smith said.

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