Despite what you might have heard, Bluffton Motor Works isnt going anywhere.
The former Franklin Electric subsidiary is staying in southern Wells County even as its one-time parent company builds a multi-million-dollar headquarters complex near Fort Wayne International Airport.
Surprised? Youre not the only one.
Theres even (confusion) among my own members, believe it or not, said Tom Hart, president of IUE-CWA Local 84802, the union that represents Bluffton Motor Works hourly employees.
Franklin Electric now leases space for its corporate office and engineering lab on the Bluffton Motor Works campus. Workers for the two companies interact on a regular basis, leading some Bluffton Motor Works employees to mistakenly suspect Franklin Electric pulls strings behind the scenes of its former division, Hart said.
CapitalWorks LLC, a Cleveland-area venture capital firm, bought the fractional motors business from Franklin Electric in 2006 for about $16 million, according to Franklin Electrics annual report for that year. Fractional motors run on less than one full horsepower, Hart explained.
Bluffton Motor Works variable-speed products are used by customers in numerous industries to run machinery such as soft service ice cream dispensers, coffee grinders, ventilators and fans.
Franklin Electric designs and makes submersible motors and pumping systems used to move water and fuel. Customers include homeowners, municipalities, and companies in commercial, agricultural and industrial industries.
CapitalWorks has invested in the company, including buying new equipment and replacing the roof, a three-phase project Hart estimated at more than $1 million.
Bluffton Motor Works President David Nussear said Friday that the 400,000-square-foot facility has more than 300 workers.
Hart, who has been with the company 42 years, represents about 230 members. Bluffton Motor Works, 410 E. Spring St. in Bluffton, is hiring production workers, paying about $13.75 an hour on average. Demand is so strong that the company has canceled its one-week summer shutdown this year.
Paul Wyche contributed to this story.