Riffle Machine Works expanding again with multimillion-dollar projectOctober 23, 2019
CHILLICOTHE – Riffle Machine Works is moving forward with another expansion, nearly four years after its last multimillion-dollar project.
Tammy Eallonardo, economic development director with Greater Chillicothe & Ross County Development, joined two Riffle officials Monday at a Ross County Commissioners meeting to discuss the latest project. Commissioners Dwight Garrett, Doug Corcoran and Steve Neal showed their support by approving an Enterprise Zone Tax Abatement of 55% for a period of 10 years.
“We are so happy to see them continue to grow,” Neal said.
Riffle Machine is one of four manufacturing support services (MSS) companies in the local Kenworth supply chain. MSS relationships occur when a manufacturer works with a third party that has specialized experience to support specific parts in the production process.
Riffle Machine was asked to assume more staging and pre-assembly work for the Class 8 heavy-duty truck manufacturer, according to Eallonardo. To accommodate the request, the company has entered into a new expansion project.
The current expansion is a $1.6 million capital investment project that would create an additional 47,000 square feet to building two at the site. It would add 25 new positions at Riffle Machine, paying at least $11 an hour. The expansion also will allow 270 positions to be retained. The company estimates it will take three years to complete.
Eallonardo says the expansion may include the construction of a right turn lane from northbound Ohio 159 at Riffle Machine’s south access point. There also could be a widening of the truck radius at both Riffle’s south and north access points.
Currently, delivery trucks do not have a different access road and must use the same driveways used by employees. This often causes traffic delays on Ohio 159, especially during shift changes. The proposed improvements will allow delivery trucks to enter a turn lane before entering the Riffle property, freeing travel on the main roadway, according to Eallonardo.
The company has been working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the road work plans and expects them to be finalized in early December. Local school districts have been notified of potential road work and the Green Township trustees have issued a letter of support for the project, according to the commissioners.
In 2016, Riffle Machine Works underwent a $2.9 million expansion that created a third 100,000-square-foot structure to be used for warehouse space in anticipation of its future growth. An additional $100,000 was used for fixtures and other items for the building.
Riffle was founded in 1980 and had just three original employees, but the business grew significantly when it received its first assembly-line project with Kenworth Truck Co. around 18 years ago. It won approval for a 50,000-square-foot facility on Riffle’s current campus in 2007 that was expanded in 2011 to 100,000 square feet.
Then it constructed Riffle 2, another 100,000-square-foot facility, on the campus in 2013. Each expansion has come with job growth, from the slightly more than 30 employees when the 50,000-square-foot facility was constructed to the 205 employees as of 2016. Now, there are nearly 300 employees.
Abatements have helped with the growth. The company received a 40 percent tax break on $1.6 million from the 2007 project that expired in 2018 and a 55 percent abatement on another almost $1.1 million. It also was awarded a 55 percent abatement for 10 years in 2013 and 2016 for the construction of Riffle 2. Now, abatements will play a role in the most recent expansion.
“Riffle Machine is a family-owned business who saw an opportunity in the 1980s and acted upon it. Their willingness to take the risk and invest in our community has allowed them to become a successful company that employs almost 300 people,” Eallonardo said. “We are happy to support their current expansion project and look forward to celebrating their future successes.”