A small Noblesville manufacturer plans to move to Elwood, bringing the Madison County city its first new major employer since 1987, Mayor Ron Arnold announced Wednesday.
Warner Bodies Inc., which custom makes bodies for work trucks, will take over a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing building that’s been vacant since 2008, Arnold said. Warner, which currently has about 50 employees, expects that number to grow to 200 over the next five years, he said.
“They’re expanding their market share,” Arnold said. "They are going into new markets they haven’t been in before. They have a great vision for this facility."
Founded in 1939, Warner was acquired by Manasek Acquisition Co. in 2010. Warner custom-welds stainless steel and aluminum utility boxes for fire trucks and other utility vehicles.
Though Elwood’s largest employer, tomato processor Red Gold, continues to expand, the city of about 8,600 people hasn’t seen major job growth since Japanese automotive supplier Elsa LLC located there in 1987, creating 350 jobs, Arnold said.
Arnold, a former deputy chief of staff and political director for Gov. Mike Pence when Pence was a congressman, began marketing Elwood with help from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. not long after he was elected in 2011.
One of the attractions for Warner, Arnold said, was the Hinds Career Center, a vocational school in town will be able to train future welders. Hourly pay at the company ranges from $12 to $20.
Warner will buy the former Plastech manufacturing building from the city’s redevelopment commission. Arnold said the company expects to invest $3 million.
“They have a lot of work to do over the next several months just to get the lights turned on,” he said.