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Auto parts maker moving to area, seeking former Delphi workers

A small Canadian auto parts maker is moving to town and is looking for former Delphi employees to help staff the operation.

Brian D. Mitchell, chief executive officer of Pop & Lock Corp., the corporate parent of Mitech Ignitions, said the company is buying the former Voyager Emblem plant on Lockport Road and plans to start work there in the first quarter of 2008, while it shuts its plant in Welland, Ont.

Mitchell anticipates 25 jobs at the outset and 35 within three years, Mitchell told the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency's Project Review Committee in a special meeting Friday.

Mitech makes vehicle ignitions for after-market retail outlets and has contracts with General Motors and Toyota to supply tailgate locks for the Chevrolet Silverado and Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks. Those are available at retail, too.

The company also is a defense contractor, manufacturing triggers for shoulder-fired missiles, including some used by U.S. forces in Iraq.

Mitchell said some of the jobs at the plant will be filled by commuters from the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario who work at his current factory, but he needs other skilled labor.

"We are primarily a compression and injection molder," Mitchell said. "We're trying to hire former Delphi workers, especially those with molding experience. Molding GM products would be even better. They're familiar with the quality requirements."

Mitchell said resumes are being accepted at the Niagara County Employment and Training Department in the Trott Access Center, 1001 11th St., Niagara Falls.

Pop & Lock is seeking a 15-year property tax break on the plant, and the IDA's interest was manifested by calling a special committee meeting Friday morning to accept the application, even though it just held one Wednesday.

Mitchell said he has a Jan. 7 deadline to close the deal and begin renovating the Voyager plant, which he said has been empty for about three years.

Mitchell, whose privately held company has about $6 million in sales per year, considered sites in Tecumseh, Mich.; Marion, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and the Town of Tonawanda, along with vacant plants on Hyde Park Boulevard and Packard Road in Niagara Falls.

He chose Niagara County over Erie County because he said Niagara was more responsive. "Erie County is not as aggressive in attracting business," he said.

The purchase of the 45,000-square-foot building is conditional on final IDA approval next month, Mitchell said. Pop & Lock will invest $1.23 million in buying, renovating and equipping the plant.

"It's our intent to basically demolish the front and rebuild it," he said.


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