Special-Lite to open plant in Benton Township

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — A Decatur door-making company is making a big investment in Benton Township.

Special-Lite Inc. announced Wednesday it bought the building at 1394 Empire Ave. to be used as a site for “manufacturing operations.”

The Decatur-based business has plants in Decatur and Niles and in Marshall, Ark. In a news release sent to The Herald-Palladium, Special-Lite said it decided to add another location as it has outgrown its Niles operation.

“We are very pleased to expand our presence in Berrien County,” Kevin Hanley, president and chief operating officer of Special-Lite Inc, said in the release. “Our business has grown for both our existing and new products. This growth has resulted in the need for more manufacturing space for the interior architectural products currently manufactured at our Niles facility.”

The more than $1 million investment accounts for not only the price of the building, but the costs attributed to the plant’s equipment.

“The Benton Charter Township location will allow us to function more efficiently as we manufacture products for our customers across the country,” Hanley’s statement continued. “It will allow us opportunities for future growth as we add products that are under development.”

Cornerstone Alliance was involved in the building search for the new Special-Lite location, providing technical assistance and coordinating efforts with the township.

Greg Vaughn, chief operating officer and vice president of business development at Cornerstone Alliance, said the number of jobs the company hopes to add at the site is undetermined at this time.

However, Vaughn said Special-Lite has targeted June 1, 2017, as the day the plant will be in operation.

Benton Township Treasurer Debbie Boothby said township officials have known about the possibility of the sale for a few weeks.

The property was home to Modar Inc., a specialty fixtures and furnishings company that closed in 2015, and has been sitting vacant for nearly two years.

Special-Lite, which has been in business since 1969, has made a lot of moves to get to where it is now.

According to Special-Lite’s website, the company acquired Universal Pultrusions of Marshall, Ark., in 2012. This move kept Special-Lite in competition among other companies in the fiberglass and non-corrosive building entry solution market.

In 2014, Special-Lite invested in more than 65,000 square feet of plant space and modernization at the Marshall location. Improvements were made to the office, the painting operation and pultruding capacity.

In 2015, Special-Lite acquired the Omega Aluminum Framing business from Chicago-based Architectural Builders Hardware Manufacturing Inc.

The acquisition broadened Special-Lite’s interior products offering with aluminum framing for the interior glass office fronts and demountable wall business.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 16, 2017)

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