By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
Sharon residents will likely be hearing the phrase “oot and aboot’’ around town now that Canadian manufacturer Noise Solutions Inc. has finalized a $5.4 million deal to settle a manufacturing operation here.
While Americans like poking fun at the Canadian way of saying “out and about,” the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s anticipated creation of 126 jobs here over three years is no laughing matter.
Cobbling together state, local and their own private funding sources, company president Scott MacDonald has signed the final loan documents whereby they bought the 30,000-square-foot former Winner International warehouse at 420 Vine St. The company is now toiling to quickly — make that very quickly — transform the building into a manufacturing and office center to begin production by Oct. 1
“Let the construction begin,’’ MacDonald said in a phone interview.
Targeting to have about 30 people on the payroll when the doors first open, as production kicks into gear he expects those numbers to swell. Office space at the site will house project management, engineering, administration and of course manufacturing jobs along with field and installation services.
In a way, Noise Solutions specializes in the sounds of silence — or as near to silence as they can get it. Creating what amounts to industrial mufflers, the MacDonald family-owned engineering and manufacturing enterprise is expecting to use them in Marcellus Shale wells in the greater region which stretches from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and maybe New York.
After a natural gas well is dug, compressors at the well site operate continuously to pump the gas out. These compressors are often known by neighboring property owners for belching out loud noises night and day. In eastern Pennsylvania a couple of well sites were cited by authorities for noise pollution and this is where companies such as Noise Solutions step in.
While creating the sound-dimming equipment, the company also hides them by housing them in structures, such as a shed or farm house, giving it better curb appeal.
In addition to being close to its customers in the gas fields, another attraction of Sharon was it was close to a number of colleges.
“We’re in a fairly unique industry,’’ MacDonald said. “We wanted to be able to gather young, educated minds and work with them and grow our organization.’’
Also, having readily available labor force to fill slots in manufacturing, engineering and administration was another key, he added.
Landing the deal had its fits and stops and at times it looked as if the company might settle elsewhere. In the end though a number of local players pulled through to get the job finalized, said Randy Seitz, chief executive officer of Penn-Northwest Development Corp., Mercer County’s lead economic development agency.
“We had 42 volunteers who participated in this recruitment process,’’ Seitz said. “There were times when some of these people were in my office working until midnight.’’
Local revolving loan funds used to finance a portion of the equipment and much of the building upgrades came from the Shenango Valley Enterprise Zone, Sharon Industrial Development Authority, Penn-Northwest and the Farrell Economic Development Authority. Land and building costs for the project were $1.7 million, equipment $2.6 million with the company committing $1.05 million of its own funds for the project. First National Bank of Pennsylvania is giving the company a bridge loan, Seitz said.
“Farrell wanted to play a role in this because some of their residents may be working there,’’ Seitz said. “Farrell adopted a regional concept. They wanted to participate in helping to bring 126 jobs here making an average of $34,000 a year.’’
The state also kicked in financial aid but Seitz said he wasn’t authorized to release those details. A message left at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
Sharon also helped the company by conveying them Alexander Drive, a short street running the length of their building. Penn State Shenango Campus also sold Noise Solutions two acres it owned near the site. Both properties will be used by the company for, among other things, storing finished equipment.