YOUNGSTOWN — United Protective Technologies, a specialty coating and engineering company, will open a location downtown to focus on its business with the federal defense industry.
“We have a need to be in this region, somewhere between western (Pennsylvania) all the way over to Michigan because we have a customer base here that we now serve out of North Carolina and the distance is too far,” said Marty Efrid, UPT’s CEO.
“That’s our production business. We also have a scientific part of our business. We’re developing new technologies for the military to reduce corrosion, improve component wear, life and performance,” he said.
About 35 percent of the company’s business deals with the defense industry, Efrid said.
UPT “looked at other cities,” he said, but chose Youngstown because of support it received from the Youngstown Business Incubator, Youngstown State University and Team NEO.
“There’s a lot of support for companies that don’t have presence in the area to come in and have conversations and have a structure you can walk into,” Efrid said.
UPT is finalizing a contract to buy a building on Federal Street and expects to open in December or January, Efrid said.
The office of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who met Friday with Efrid and other business officials who do defense industry work, said UPT’s Youngstown building will be downtown on East Federal Street, across from the Penguin City Brewing Co.
UPT plans to hire 30 workers in its first three years of operating in Youngstown and grow to 60 by its fifth year, Efrid said.
The company has about 60 employees at its corporate headquarters in Locust, N.C. The corporate headquarters will remain there.
UPT does research and development for several government agencies, including NASA, the Navy, Army and Air Force. It also applies coatings on industrial, commercial and consumer goods including injection molds, firearms, knives, valves and gears with an advanced thin film coating that extends the life of the items.
The Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber helped UPT with site selection and connected the company to workforce development partners and contractors.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the (Mahoning) Valley. It comprises actual production on top of some research and development,” said Shea MacMillan, the chamber’s vice president of economic development. “There will be some Ph.D. level employees operating out of this facility on top of skilled workers.”
“It’s a testament to the collaboration across the organizations with Youngstown Business Incubator, ourselves, Tim Ryan’s office and the resources we have put together in partnership with the building trades to show we are a collaborative, cohesive community that can be a good long-term partner.”
MacMillan said the connection to Youngstown was made through the Advanced Manufacturing and Applied Research Innovation Institute (AMARII) in Youngstown, which connected the company to the Youngstown Business Incubator.
“This is a really high quality advanced materials, advanced manufacturing company that is very active in doing applied research and finding ways to make manufacturing processes better,” said YBI CEO Barb Ewing, who also is a member of the AMARII advisory board. “They are very interested in developing a skilled workforce … these will be really quality jobs, and I think it speaks volumes about the quality of the ecosystem that we have built here.”
AMARII is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining to advance manufacturing technologies and strengthen the manufacturing industry in northeast Ohio and elsewhere.
America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, also in Youngstown is part of the center’s network.
Ryan, D-Howland, said he’s been working for the past 20 years to “diversify our economy here beyond the cutting edge to create a future for our kids and help with national security.”
He added: “This is about business, government and education coming together in public-private partnerships.”
Ryan’s office staff said the congressman has helped UPT get $6 million in federal defense spending.