Elliott Group begins transforming former Jeannette Glass into new plant, jobs
Elliott Group considered other options before deciding Jeannette was the best fit for a new $60 million testing facility, according to CEO Michael Lordi.
Company officials checked out an industrial park in Reno, Nev., and other spots near Houston. They finally picked the former Jeannette Glass site, about 1.5 miles from the company’s U.S. headquarters in the city.
“We decided to keep it here because this is our main manufacturing facility in the United States,” Lordi said. “We have 1,000 employees here. We have really good workforce, (a) very well-ingrained supply chain. So we decided to come here, work with the county and the state to make this site happen and it’s going to be a really good thing. It’s our largest single capital project we’ve done in our history.”
Local, state and company officials celebrated years of partnerships on Tuesday at a chilly groundbreaking ceremony for Elliott Group’s cryogenic pump test stand. The testing facility and expanded manufacturing operations building cryogenic pumps and expanders will add about 130 jobs to the company’s Jeannette workforce.
The grassy 13 acres in the heart of the city’s downtown stand in stark contrast to the rusting remnants of the former Jeannette Glass factory, which dominated the landscape since closing in 1983. The majority of a $3.6 million cleanup and redevelopment project by the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corp. was completed last year.
“Yes, it’s an investment of money, but more importantly, it’s an investment into the future of Jeannette, of Westmoreland County and of Pennsylvania,” said Jason Rigone, IDC director. “Your investment not only speaks to the future of manufacturing, it also shows what can be gained and achieved from strong partnerships.”
Rigone praised those partnerships in making the transformation possible — current and former city leaders, county commissioners, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the IDC, state Sen. Kim Ward, state Rep. Justin Walsh and the Westmoreland Conservation District.
“Without the commonwealth’s investment … we’d still be struggling to clean up this site,” Rigone said.
The IDC bought the former glass plant for $305,000 at a 2012 tax sale and spent years dealing with legal challenges from the previous owner. The property was littered with remnants of glass production and asbestos contamination amid dilapidated buildings.
Ward recounted the arduous work through three governors to get to Tuesday’s ceremony.
“It is quite an honor to stand here and see the transformation of what used to be here into now,” she said. “We’re going to have a beautiful facility with good paying jobs. We’re all thankful, thank you very much for bringing those jobs here where we have the best workers.”
Elliott Group is one of two or three companies in the world that make cryogenic pumps and expanders, Lordi said. Elliott, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Ebara Corp., supplies compressors and turbines for liquefied natural gas plants.
The official start of construction is a proud moment, said Ebara chairman Toichi Maeda.
“When completed, this world-class facility will be the most up-to-date, modern testing complex in the industry,” he said. “Highly-engineered, uniquely-designed cryogenic pumps and expanders will be tested and shipped to facilities around the world from this very location.”
Construction should take about 18 months, with company officials aiming for opening in May 2021, Lordi said.
Mayor Curtis Antoniak remembers when the city was dominated by manufacturers. To see manufacturing return “is a dream that has come true,” he said.
“The industries in our town have really gone away,” he said. “We used to have a population of 17,000 people. Now we have a population of 9,400. This is just a huge day. Jeannette’s on its way back.”
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .