BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Sometimes getting to work can be the greatest obstacle to having or keeping a job.
That is why the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) has teamed up with Maumee Assembly and Stamping to make it easier for employees to make it to their scheduled shift on time. In December, the transit system will add a stop at the Maumee plant.
“It’s important for us because it’s the primary reason people ride the bus,” said TARTA general manager Jim Gee. “Sixty percent of our trips are work trips.”
Currently, the employees who depend on TARTA are dropped off near the plant, such as at Arrowhead Business Park, leaving them with the options of calling for another ride service, riding a bicycle or walking the remaining distance to the plant.
TARTA trustee and Maumee representative Frank Frey said that adding the stop made sense.
“It’s what we do,” he said. “It is also a great opportunity for Maumee to add new vitality to that end of town.”
The TARTA move comes with the announcement that the stamping plant is once again expanding operations and adding new jobs. The firm, which opened in 2009 with seven employees, has increased its workforce to more than 300. Currently, 95 percent of its business is tied to the automotive industry.
In July, the company purchased a 400-ton press, which will increase production from 40 parts per minute to 80 parts per minute.
“Today, we are turning down work – this press is in demand,” said Maumee Assembly and Stamping owner Stan Chlebowski.
The press cost $350,000 and was purchased from a machinery dealer in Tecumseh, Mich. Approximately $1.5 million in additional funds have been invested to disassemble, move and reassemble the press in the Maumee plant. The floor and ceiling have also been modified to accommodate the new equipment. The press should be up and running in February 2019.
In June, the company also purchased a 660-ton press, which will be up and running this week.
With both presses, the plant expects to add another 32 production jobs, said Maumee Assembly and Stamping vice president of operations Travis Barta. For him, the partnership with TARTA will help to maintain a workforce that is reliable, dependable and on time.
“We hire a lot of great people, but the inconvenient truth is that they just don’t always have a way to get here and attendance gets the better part of them and then we have to part ways,” Barta said. “We are doing everything we can to not only provide jobs, but to provide alternatives to get people here and to keep them here.”
While a majority of the work in the plant is geared to the automotive industry, Chlebowski is focused on continued growth, eyeing other industries, including energy and robotics. The entrepreneur also owns U.S. Utility Contractor Co., Reliance Rental & Leasing Co. and Brandywine Country Club.
“Northwest Ohio has a lot of talented people and they are finding us and we are finding them. And everything we’re putting in here, we are doing for the future,” he said.