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Car parts maker expands in Hancock County

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Spectra Premium Industries Inc., a Canadian manufacturer of automotive parts, plans to hire dozens more workers in Hancock County as it moves its distribution operations from Knightstown to a mammoth industrial facility near Mount Comfort.

Spectra has commenced a long-term lease for a 250,000-square-foot building at Axcess70 Business Park, located north of the Interstate 70/Mount Comfort Road interchange in Hancock County.

The facility will be Spectra’s main distribution center for the United States, according to Greg Vaughn, quality manager of affiliate Spectra Premium USA Corp.

The firm owns a 60,000-square-foot distribution facility in nearby Knightstown that has served as a U.S. distribution hub. Looking for more space, it settled on the Axcess70 location, in part to keep its local workforce intact, Vaughn said.

Spectra is in the process of moving operations from the Knightstown facility to the Axcess70 center, Vaughn said. The changeover is expected to be complete by early September. Spectra already has put the Knightstown facility on the market for sale.

The Knightstown center employed about 50 workers. Spectra has hired dozens of work-to-hire temps for the new facility, and hopes to bring them on permanently in the near future for a total headcount of more than 100, Vaughn said.

Spectra manufactures and distributes cooling and fuel system products in the U.S. and Canada. Its products include radiators, heaters, condensers, fuel tank assemblies, and air-conditioning systems.

The lease is a big win for Axcess70 and co-developer Browning Investments Inc. The 250,000-square-foot facility has been unoccupied since the two-building Axcess70 complex was finished in 2009.

“That building sat empty during the downturn, and we turned away some smaller tenants until we found who we wanted,” said Dale Pfeifer, director of real estate development for Indianapolis-based Browning.

A joint venture of Browning and New York City-based Real Estate Capital Partners started development of Axcess70 in 2008. Development costs for the buildings, totaling 673,000 square feet, were about $27 million.

Two tenants fully occupy the other building, including lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel.

About 80 acres of land at Axcess70 remain available for development, Pfeifer said. Options include build-to-suit properties for distribution operations.

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