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Auto operation to expand

Voss to build plant on Hillegas Road, creating 30 jobs

Voss Automotive Inc. on Monday announced plans to invest $5.8 million to expand its local operation, the German company’s North American headquarters, and create up to 30 jobs by 2015.

The manufacturer will build and equip a 35,000-square-foot plant in the 4700 block of Hillegas Road. The building, which will sit on 9.5 acres, will designate 25,000 square feet for office space and 10,000 square feet for a design validation lab and prototype shop.

Voss designs and makes customized line and connection technology for the commercial vehicle, passenger car and off-road vehicle industries. Pneumatics, hydraulics, coolant and fuel are examples of those lines.

The parts are built in Mexico, but they are designed, tested and shipped from here.

Voss will continue to lease 18,000 square feet at 7625 DiSalle Blvd. for warehouse space, said Eduardo Vultorius, Voss’ CEO. The new building will be about 6 miles away.

The company, which now employs 51, expects to add up to 30 jobs after it completes hiring for the expansion. Some hiring has begun.

The positions include quality engineering, design engineering, test engineering, project managers and sales. Salaries will average $60,000 a year.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Voss up to $400,000 in tax credits, based on the employer’s hiring plans. The company is awaiting local approval for a 10-year property tax abatement. The total state and local incentive package could total $1.7 million, according to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance.

Voss, which established its Fort Wayne operation in 1997, considered taking the project to Ohio or Michigan after corporate leaders in Germany asked local company leaders to explore the options.

Mayor Tom Henry referred to the competitive nature of the project in a written statement.

“Our ongoing relationship and open dialog with local company executives allowed us to address specific needs to retain this Fort Wayne business,” he said.

By meeting with Voss officials throughout the process, local officials were able to match competing offers, said Ashley Steenman, the alliance’s vice president of business development.

Vultorius said the company is happy with local workers, who are “skilled and highly motivated.” The only way Voss would have relocated, he said, was if another state offered significant incentives that Indiana didn’t.