MERCER, Pa. – The expansion of a 20-year old company here could lead to the creation of approximately 100 new jobs over the next four years, its president and CEO says.
Imperial Systems Inc. plans to rehab a 90,000-square-foot building that once served as a plant for Reznor Heating on McKinley Avenue and repurpose it into a new operation to serve its growing air filtration division, says Jeremiah Wann.
“We’re completely out of room,” he says
The company started manufacturing its air filtration products out of its current 95,000-square-foot facility at 7320 W. Market St. about a year ago.
The expansion would lead to the creation of 50 jobs in 2022, plus another 50 with four years, Wann says. The company employs 100 and is looking to fill another 20 positions.
Imperial Systems is best known for manufacturing metal dust collection housings used in a variety of businesses and industries, Wann says. In the past, the company relied on outsourcing its air filtration supplies from overseas.
However, supply-chain issues over the past 18 months caused Wann to rethink this strategy and vertically integrate air-filter production into the company.
“We really thought we wanted to bring that all back to Mercer County and to the U.S.,” he says. The company started to manufacture its filters last year from its existing building, a former Chevron facility it refurbished four years ago. “This building was completely dilapidated,” he says.
The former Chevron building will house the company’s traditional metal production operations for industrial dust equipment, while the old Reznor plant would be solely dedicated to the production of cartridge filters used in that equipment, Wann says.
Imperial uses its proprietary filters with its own housings, but also builds filters to suit all other dust collection systems.
Wann says work inside the new space began this week and should be completed by the end of May. To date, the company has invested approximately $1 million in equipment to accommodate the new manufacturing operations. More equipment would be added this year, he notes.
Reznor, which was owned by parent company Nortek Global HVAC, closed its Mercer plant in 2019 and relocated the operations. At one point, the plant employed about 300.
Wann thought the building suited the company’s needs perfectly, while it also opened the opportunity to bring jobs back to Mercer County.
Demand for the company’s products is strong, he notes, driven mostly by regulations set by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration intended to create a healthier environment in the workplace. “Business grew by 53% last year, our biggest growth year ever,” he says. “New laws and guidelines are driving business our way.”
Imperial has worked with major companies such as SpaceX, Tesla and the Ford Motor Co., and small fabrication shops. “It could be metalworking or woodworking one day, and the next day an aerospace company,” Wann says.
Imperial Systems worked with community and state leaders to help with the project, Wann notes.
“There’s about 500 or 600 jobs that have left Mercer in the last four or five years,” he says, citing the loss of Mercer Forge in 2020 and the Reznor plant. “We appreciate the community support and it’s exciting. I feel like we’re really going to make a difference with this.”
Gary Dovey, vice president of Penn Northwest Development Corp, said in a statement that the organization is “thankful to work with such local businesses and members. In fact, Imperial Systems is a homegrown local business with Jeremiah as a visionary leader who continues to grow this business and hire talented individuals.”
State Sen. Michele Brooks, R-50, congratulated the company for “helping to create a healthy and safe work environment in properties across the nation and the globe, while creating many local manufacturing jobs, and a more vibrant Mercer County.” She also recognized Mercer Borough for its help to complete an access bridge to the property.
“It is exciting news to learn that Imperial Systems, Inc. is expanding its operations in the Mercer area through its purchase of the Reznor facility,” added state Rep. Tim Bonner, R-8, in a statement. “This expansion will allow it to become an international supplier and to increase its employment rolls to 200 workers over the next four years.”
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.