UP AND AWAY: Airplane engine parts maker expanding, adding equipment

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SHIRLEY — A maker of airplane engine parts is soaring to new heights with a business expansion and new equipment.

Tech Castings, located at 1102 South St. in Shirley, is adding onto its foundry to make room for more machinery and jobs. A state grant program is also bringing robotics to the facility.

The company makes airplane engine parts, including for commercial and military aircraft.

Jeff Lantz, president of Tech Castings, has been part of the company’s ownership for about a decade. The foundry started in the early 1970s.

“You wouldn’t pick this spot to start a foundry, but it’s been here for a long time, so it works well,” Lantz said.

Executives of a power company started it as a loss leader, and spun it off as it became profitable.

“It’s been pouring engine parts for 50 years,” Lantz said.

Tech Castings is adding on 12,000 square feet to its facility to support the growth it’s experiencing, which will put the building at around 40,000 square feet. The $4.5 million project will provide new manufacturing, office and administrative space and two new furnaces along with pre- and post-cast processing equipment additions and upgrades.

Anticipated for completion in 2022, the expansion will more than double the company’s current output capacity. The new equipment will also increase the maximum size and weight of parts the facility can produce.

Lantz estimates creating another 15 to 20 jobs from the growth, not quite doubling the company’s workforce. About two-thirds of the jobs will be hourly skilled labor and about one-third will be professional, including engineering positions.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation recently awarded $171,500 to Tech Castings through a match grant program to implement robotics at the facility. Lantz said the equipment will lift and dip part molds into slurry, increasing the productivity from carrying out the process by hand.

Lantz said he’s grateful to the town of Shirley as the company pursues a tax break for its growth through which taxes on the improvements would be phased in over time.

“The town has been very supportive,” he said. “It’s not something they deal with on a daily basis like you see on the western side of the county. It’s new territory for them in terms of growth and tax abatements and everything, and they’ve been very supportive and I think we have a really good relationship with them, and we’re excited to continue to be here.”

The relationship is mutually beneficial, he continued.

“It should be a good revenue opportunity for the town as well,” he said. “A fair number of our workers come from either in Shirley or close proximity. We’ve got a decent talent pool out here that’s been pretty proactive.”

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