An opening to the future

Door plant could lead to more manufacturing at Starpointe

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BURGETTSTOWN – A German door manufacturer officially opened for business in Starpointe business park Monday, a move some officials saw as a metaphor for opening up the park for more manufacturing-based businesses.


Hörmann Flexon LLC, which broke ground for its 68,000-square-foot North American headquarters and production plant nearly two years ago, actually began making doors there last fall. It previously made the doors at a smaller plant in Leetsdale.


Monday’s ceremonies, attended by officials from the Pittsburgh Regional Authority, the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Washington County Council on Economic Development and Washington County commissioners, as well as Hörmann Flexon owner Christoph Hörmann, focused on the German company’s expansion here.


“Our investment in the new building makes it clear that we, the Hörmann family, believe in the U.S. market,” Hörmann said.


That belief is underscored by the company’s production growth. Hörmann noted that over the past three years, output has doubled for the company’s high-performance doors in the North American market.


The custom-built, motorized doors, which are available in both fabric and metal construction, enable buildings to more efficiently retain heat in cold temperatures or maintain cooler temperatures in warm weather. The motors quickly raise and lower the doors to minimize air movement.


During a brief interview following his remarks, Hörmann acknowledged the pickup in sales reflects the increase in capital investments by its U.S. customers, which include those that are retrofitting existing buildings as well as constructing new ones.


While the plant employs 50 people in the 68,000-square-foot facility, Hörmann and other officials noted the company purchased enough adjacent acreage to expand to a total of 220,000 square feet.


Officials who shared the dais with Hörmann Monday expressed confidence that its presence here will attract more manufacturing to the area.


“We aren’t just creating jobs here, it’s careers,” said Dan Reitz, executive direction of WCCED, which owns Starpointe. “We want people to come here for careers in manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, logistics and science.”


He added that the council is “this close” to closing a deal with another company interested in taking a 100,000-square-foot building in the park, but declined to provide additional details.


Commissioner Harlan Shober added that the opening of the Hörmann Flexon plant also represents the figurative opening of a door for the future of the park and its ability to attract more manufacturing-based businesses.


During a tour of the production area, Hörmann Flexon’s Eric Plummer said the plant can produce as many as 10 of the custom-made doors each day.


He said turnaround time for an order is two to three weeks for a fabric door and three to four weeks for a metal door.


He noted that in addition to building the new plant, the company also purchased the latest production equipment, including a machine that allows the operator to enter the dimensions of a fabric door into a computer and automatically cut the material to the specifications.


The company also purchased a computer-operated, two-story vertical storage unit that helps workers quickly access the parts they need and eliminates the need for parts bins on the production floor.


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