Lansing-based NB Coatings North America plans to build a new warehouse in Hobart so it can expand its manufacturing operations in Illinois, Vice President of Manufacturing Jack Wickham said.

The Tier 3 auto supplier, which is owned by Nippon Paint in Japan, ran out of space at its current location at 2701 E. 170th St. in Lansing, where it has been consolidating regional warehouses and trying to keep up with booming demand in the automotive sector, which posted record sales in the United States last year.

The company will invest $4.7 million to build a 124,800-square-foot warehouse in NorthWind Crossings Industrial Park in Hobart, where Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith attended a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.

Wickham said the new distribution facility would be used to store raw materials headed to its Lansing manufacturing plant and the final product before it was shipped out to automakers like Toyota and Honda.

NB Coatings North America also counts the Big Three automakers among its customers, and ships to plants throughout the Midwest.

 “Since we service the automotive industry and tier suppliers, most of our customers are either north in Michigan and into Canada, or south in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama,” Wickham said.

 “The U.S. growth of the industry is in the southeast. We quickly narrowed our search to an area that was close to our manufacturing plant in Lansing, Illinois, and also had very good access to the main north-south corridor of I-65 and the Michigan corridor of I-94.”

Founded in 1971, the company currently employs about 400 workers in Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Canada and Mexico. It joins Team Furmanite, Teleperformance, Hanson Logistics and ITR America at the industrial park Becknell Industrial developed just off Interstate 65.

“We put it up in 2005. It’s been 11 years, and we have 1.2 million square feet, which seems like a big number to me,” Becknell Executive Vice President J. Mark Shapland said. “We’re seeing some good momentum.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state’s commerce agency, offered NB Coatings $176,000 in tax breaks, or about $8,000 per job, not including a tax break it got from Hobart.

“I have to say it’s been extremely exciting in the last few years,” Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor said.

“There’s a lot of excitement about Northwest Indiana as a place to expand. Beyond a strategic transportation avenue, Hobart has a strong workforce, favorable tax rates and superior infrastructure, and another company is recognizing that fact.”

NB Coatings plans to start hiring in Hobart in the fall. For more information, visit nbcoatings.com.

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