Leetonia manufacturing plant celebrates multi-million dollar expansion

Local News

The ribbon was cut Friday at Pennex Aluminum in Leetonia

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – A manufacturing plant is putting out the “help wanted” sign now that a multi-million dollar expansion is complete.

The ribbon was cut Friday at Pennex Aluminum in Leetonia, which specializes in aluminum fabricating and extrusions.

Local leaders were at Friday’s ribbon-cutting, including state Senator Michael Rulli and state Representative Timothy Ginter.

Friday’s event also marks the 40th anniversary of Pennex being purchased by the Pennsylvania-based Metal Exchange Corporation. At the time, Pennex was located in Wellsville and was struggling through the recession of the late-70s.

“It was also at a time that was very difficult because the facility was losing money,” said Rick Merluzzi, CEO of Metal Exchange Corp.

After opening in Leetonia in 2010, the company now runs three shifts.

“That’s built up now to 175 employees, and we anticipate with this investment that we’re gonna do an additional 50 jobs,” Merluzzi said.

The local school district granted Pennex a 15-year tax abatement for this $23-million addition in which the company repays 25% of its property tax value — or roughly $45,000 a year — directly to the district.

“It helped us with enrollment, both by bringing jobs to the community and also by bringing financial support to the community,” said Leetonia Schools Superintendent Rob Mehno.

While executives say it will take a few months to install new equipment, they are already looking ahead to a potential third expansion within the next several years.

“We look at this long-term, you know, so the economy’s gonna go through its up and downs. We’re here long-term,” Merluzzi said.

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