80/20 adding space, employees to meet demand

COLUMBIA CITY — Don Wood, president of Columbia City-based 80/20 appeared before the Whitley Council Tuesday afternoon as the premier advocate for local expansion — with special emphasis on the local part.“We’re not owned by some New York investment banking organization,” said Wood, whose company received a tax abatement from the county for a sizable expansion.“This is our fourth expansion,” Wood said. “And, at 93,000 square feet, which will double the size of what we have, we’re opening up some new markets.”The company located on U.S. 30 east of Columbia City, designs and manufactures modular extruded aluminum framing for a variety of industrial and home uses.According to a press release from the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation, Wood’s company will invest more than $9.4 million for additional manufacturing space.The expansion is also expected to create up to 110 new jobs by 2014.An employer of more than 250 workers, 80/20 announced it plans to begin the hiring process for additional manufacturing and inventory management personnel later this spring.“It’s steadily grown over the years,” said Alan Tio, president of EDC. “This is a very significant expansion.”The growth of 80/20 was well-received by the council, which approved a tax abatement to coincide with $700,000 in state tax credits and grants.“80/20 is one of the best things that’s happened out there,” said Councilman Bill Overdeer, referring to continued manufacturing growth east of Columbia City.“We’re proud to have you here and hope we continue to have you here,” said Council President Kim Wheeler.Wood founded the company in 1989 and moved the firm from Fort Wayne to its current location near Columbia City.