FOSTORIA — Less than a month after the former Autolite plant closed its doors, another big Fostoria company announced plans to purchase the building and property.
In a letter to employees, Roppe Holding Co. President and Chief Executive Donald Miller announced a purchase agreement for the land and buildings of the sparkplug factory.
“We will have the ability to expand in Fostoria,” the letter said. “Our future looks bright. President Trump’s new tax plan will allow us to purchase new equipment to produce additional products and improve efficiency.”
The Autolite complex covers more than 40 acres of land and has about 500,000 square feet of industrial space.
Roppe and Miller have not responded to several requests for comment since mid-February.
According to reports from The Blade, Miller said Roppe is looking at new product lines and has an immediate need for about 100,000 square feet of factory space.
Roppe Rubber Corp. opened in Fostoria in 1955 with just seven employees and focused on production of rubber flooring products.
Roppe Holding Co. was formed in 1999 to better manage the expanding number of companies under the Roppe umbrella. The conglomerate consists of Roppe Corp., ATECO, RHC Logistics, TCB Holdings Inc. and Seneca Millwork.
The company has nearly 300 employees who work at the company’s Union Street factory and another 100 employees at Seneca Millwork.
Miller has not said if the Autolite plant purchase is likely to increase employment.
“My goal in life is to provide for the future of Roppe Holding Company employees and customers,” Miller wrote in the letter. “This acquisition will make that goal possible.”
Autolite passed through several hands during the 81 years it was open in Fostoria. Autolite was purchased by Ford in 1961, a period when employment peaked at more than 1,000 workers.
The plant was then purchased by Bendix in 1973. In 1983, Allied Corp. acquired Bendix. In the 1983 merger, the three brand names FRAM, Bendix and Autolite became part of Allied Automotive. Allied then became AlliedSignal.
Operations ceased at the plant on Feb. 3, leaving about 60 people out of work.