Yamaha to build propeller plant in Greenfield


GREENFIELD — An Indianapolis company that makes propellers for water craft has set its sights ahead to make Greenfield home.

Yamaha Marine Precision Propellers Inc. plans to move part of its manufacturing operations from the east side of Indianapolis to Greenfield, investing more than $18 million and bringing 81 jobs to the city, the company’s general manager, Jonathon Burns, told the Greenfield City Council last week.

The company designs and builds more than 300 different types of stainless steel propellers for Yamaha Outboards across the globe. Burns said Yamaha will initially build a 50,000 square-foot building in late 2019 on 28 acres of land in the 1600 block of West New Road in Greenfield, just north of Lark Ranch.

Burns said the marine market has grown over the past several years, which has caused Yamaha to look at expanding its operations. The company’s current location in Indianapolis is landlocked between Interstate 70 and nearby businesses, limiting their ability to grow. Burns said after looking at available land across the Indianapolis metro area and in Hancock County, Yamaha chose Greenfield. The company plans to invest $8.5 million in equipment; $6.3 million in land; and $3.5 million in employee salaries.

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The land along West New Road, called the Barr South property, has an Indiana Site Certified Silver tier status through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. That means the land is prime real estate for industry, said Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell. Yamaha plans to build on half of Barr South.

Fewell said the city is always searching for economic development opportunities.

“It’s a chance for the city to have a good, solid business that comes into play and gets people to work,” Fewell said, “and it gives us the type of element that we want to keep people working and gaining value in the land and keep people on the roster for income.”

Randy Sorrell, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said Yamaha hits the “sweet spot” for the county’s business climate, saying it’s a positive for the county and city to add highly skilled and well-paying manufacturing jobs. While some workers may commute to Greenfield from Indianapolis, Sorrell said, they will still generate commerce while spending money in Hancock County.

yamaha facility

The company plans to bring 81 jobs to the facility, with an average hourly pay of $20.76. Jason Davidson, manufacturing engineering and maintenance manager, said those jobs include employees coming from Indianapolis as well as new hires.

Yamaha is requesting 10-year tax abatement from the city for personal property and real property. Katie Culp, president of KSM Location Advisors, told the council that if the abatement is approved, Yamaha would pay $985,180 in property taxes over 10 years, while the city would waive $971,390.

The city council last week approved a resolution creating an economic revitalization area for the property. The council, as well as the Greenfield Redevelopment Commission, will vote next week on the tax abatement proposal, Culp said. If the abatement is approved, Yamaha hopes to break ground on the facility in early June; move in equipment in late 2019; and start production in mid-2020.

The first phase is building a facility for its wax-dip-foundry method of making propellers.

Propeller manufacturing starts with heating wax pellets to a toothpaste consistency and injecting the molten material into dies, Davidson said. Once that wax mold is formed properly, it’s dipped in liquid and sand multiple times to create an outer durable shell that can withstand heat. After the shell cures for 12 to 24 hours, Davidson said, the wax is melted out and workers pour molten steel inside the mold. The outer shell is soon broken off, and workers begin to cut, grind and finish the propeller to a stainless steel shine.

The Greenfield facility won’t include the grind-finish-boxing process at first, Davidson said. The company hopes to move its entire Indianapolis operations to Greenfield, adding on about 100,000 square feet of space to the land. Burns said Yamaha may double that space to 300,000 square feet in future years if the company decides to add more manufacturing processes to its repertoire.

Davidson, who’s also the project manager for the new facility, said Yamaha’s Indianapolis location, which first started as a service shop for propellers in the late 1960s, stretches about 15,000 square feet in separate buildings. Yamaha will add more automation in the Greenfield location to more than double its propeller operations he said; the company currently makes about 60,000 propellers a year.