Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC announced on Monday, April 1, it is expanding its long-standing Huntington footprint with the addition of a sixth location.
The new site will be a 409,000-square-foot facility, which will enable strategic alignment of Bendix’s manufacturing operations and expanded opportunities to support the company’s escalating commercial vehicle aftermarket business.
Bendix, a North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, has been operating in Huntington since February 1980.
Currently, the company operates five locations within a five-mile radius, including manufacturing, remanufacturing and assembly sites, as well as Bendix’s primary North American distribution center.
The complex is the site of continual growth and expansion, reinforced by the company’s business unit-focused approach. In 2017, Bendix made a $3.8 million capital investment that included the addition of two new production lines to manufacture a portion of Bendix’s vibration damper product portfolio.
Investments continued last year with the first installment of an expected $1.5 million capital plan, which opened the doors on a fifth building that expanded the company’s distribution capabilities, as well as its module manufacturing.
“We’re very proud of our nearly 40-year history here, and this purchase marks the start of another exciting new chapter for our team in Huntington. Our newest addition is just one more way we continue to optimize our manufacturing operations and distribution, while addressing customer demand at the highest level possible,” said Carlos Hungria, Bendix chief operating officer.
The new facility, located at 1515 Riverfork Drive, is directly across from Bendix’s main plant in Huntington. The purchase price for the former Stride Rite distribution center, shuttered in 2009, was not disclosed.
Bendix, which currently employs almost 440 team members in Huntington, expects to add approximately 40 additional jobs over a three-year period as it further ramps up operations. Approximately 30 percent of the floor space will be held in reserve to address long-term expansion opportunities, note Bendix officials.
The expansive site features 45 freight docks, 36-foot ceiling height and ultra high-bay racking capacity to optimize and introduce advanced technological options to Bendix’s warehousing and shipping operations, while also offering a nearly 60 percent increase in the campus’ three-shift distribution capability.
Project planning for the facility has already begun, with initial operations to commence as early as first quarter 2020.
As part of its overall plan, Bendix expects to consolidate several of its current buildings into the newly purchased Riverfork Drive location. Consolidation within the new location will further boost the company’s vigorous cross-training program, allowing the skilled workforce to flex as needed to meet customer demands, while also helping to enhance communications by placing select central resources within the overall operation in closer proximity to the production floor, note officials.
“As a Tier 1 supplier to the commercial vehicle industry, it’s critical that we start with a blank sheet of paper and pursue every option to further enhance our efficiency and productivity within this new location,” said Christopher Camp, Bendix plant manager in Huntington. “Beyond the advances in our manufacturing operations and the innovation opportunities to multiply our warehousing and fulfillment productivity, our newest plant will also align with our rigorous standards for energy consumption and environmental considerations.”
Camp also noted that property the company already owns between the new site and an existing facility holds the potential for future expanded outdoor recreational and wellness space, including a walking trail, basketball courts and more, to build upon the employee health and wellness initiatives.
According to Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability, “The new Huntington site will incorporate green building guidelines, an energy-efficient infrastructure and zero-waste planning as essential elements in the construction and renovation plans. These objectives are closely aligned with one of our corporate values, responsibility. We intend to include sustainability concepts in this project that will make the facility better for the environment, energy- and water-efficient and healthier and even safer for our employees.”
Camp added, “Our manufacturing operations in Huntington have benefited from the teamwork, commitment and dedication of our employees over the years. The newest site offers us the capacity to help keep pace as customer demand for our products continues to grow.”
Camp noted that in addition to Huntington County Economic Development, key partners in the building purchase project included the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
“We appreciate the strong cooperation and support we’ve always received from our partners in Huntington County,” Hungria said. “Their efforts have helped us continue to expand in this area, and we look forward to what the future has to offer.”