Scott Reeve, president of Composite Advantage, is planning to renovate 95,000 square feet of what will become a new factory in Dayton, at 750 Rosedale Drive in Southern Dayton View.
Composite Advantage bought the Rosedale building for $1.45 million. It’s a 400,000-square foot former tire factory and warehouse, and Reeve hopes to have operations at the new site at late May or early June.
“We’re actually tearing down the roof of more than 100,000 square feet of this and making that into an outdoor work yard,” he said Friday.
“Our products are fairly large. After we make a lot of the stuff through the manufacturing process, we have to assemble it into modules to ship. We’re doing that outside.”
That will leave the company with 300,000 square feet of space inside.
Composite makes decks for increasingly popular pedestrian bridges, as well as equipment for the U.S. Navy, such as boat bumpers, with composite panels fabricated for the bumpers.
All that space will make room for new workers, he acknowledges.
“We’re talking about additional jobs over the next five years,” Reeve said. “Basically, where we’re at, we needed more room to carry out our 2017 work.”
Today, Composite has 95 employees. Reeve envisions hiring up to 90 more people over the next five years.
To put those numbers in perspective, recall that back in 2010, when Reeve’s business won the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Soin Award for Innovation, he had 20 employees.
“It’s basically just a ramp-up,” Reeve said. “Right now, we are looking for employees. Just like most companies. The majority of our employees are manufacturing operators who are making the parts.”
Dayton did not apply for a Montgomery County ED/GE (Economic Development/Government Equity) grant for Composite Advantage in this most recent ED/GE funding application round.
But Reeve said there may be a time when he will seek an ED/GE grant. The company has secured a $325,000 grant from JobsOhio, the state’s private non-profit development arm. And he recalled that the city of Dayton provided economic assistance when the company first left the National Composite Center in Kettering 10 years ago.
The company has been able to “give back” by hiring Dayton residents, Reeve said.
“Business has been good,” he said.
The company enjoys three growth markets: First, pedestrian bridges. Second, infrastructure for the Navy, including panels and materials for docking or mooring of ships, submarines and aircraft carriers.
“There will continue to be good work there,” Reeve predicted.
Its third growth market: fender protection systems, fences in the water that help protect bridge piers.
“The big benefit (of composite material) in a lot of cases, is the corrosion systems,” Reeve said. “They last longer. Some of the best growth markets for us is something that has been sitting in the water forever.”
He has never been tempted to move closer to a coast or a Navy base, he said. First, Navy bases are all over the nation. And he needs to have his company close to interstates for his extensive shipping.
“We ship to Virginia, Florida, Washington state, Hawaii,” Reeve said. “Quite frankly, being in Dayton and being here puts us in the middle of everything.”
There’s also the matter of expertise. The innovations and know-how are here in Dayton.
“The manufacturing technique that we use, there are some aspects of that that are technically specialized,” Reeve said. “The people who do that are here.”
The company’s current 401 Kiser St. location is up for sale. Though a couple of parties are looking at it, Reeve said a sale is not imminent.
Article writte by Tom Gnau and Cory Frolik, Dayton Daily news staff writers