Gina Mace

CUYAHOGA FALLS: When a fire destroyed a large portion of a Cuyahoga Falls factory in December, its director of operations saw it as a sign that maybe it was time for the 30-year-old company to move.

But Judson Waters said it was the loyalty of his Technicote employees and the help he received from the city that made the company want to stay in the Falls and rebuild.

Jennifer Syx, deputy director of development said the City Council will consider a proposal when it meets tonight to offer the company a 15-year, 50 percent property tax break.

The company is proposing to begin construction on a 45,000-square-foot expansion as early as next month.

If all goes as planned, the factory could be up and running at full strength by the end of the year.

“We’ll have more square footage laid out in a more efficient manner,” Waters said.

Technicote Inc. is proposing to invest $10.3 million in construction, new equipment and inventory. The tax break would save the company about $35,000 a year.

Syx said Woodridge Schools would still receive more tax revenue than the company currently pays.

In the next two years, Waters said, the company plans to add 12 employees.

The Marc Drive plant was nearly destroyed in a fire Dec. 16.

Waters said by the time he arrived at the plant – a few hours after the blaze started – firefighters were still spraying water on it.

“Every employee from Technicote was on site,” Waters said. “A lot of them were crying. They acted like someone had died in their families.”

At the time of the fire, there were 40 employees at the plant.

“It impressed me that there was so much loyalty,” Waters said. “They offered to do whatever we wanted, for no pay.”

Syx was assigned to find an appropriate site where Technicote could rebuild. Falls Mayor Don Robart suggested they just rebuild on the same site.

While the search continued, some plant employees helped with the cleanup and then returned to work in a portion of the factory that survived the fire. Another 25 employees were temporarily transferred to a plant in Indiana.

All but six of the workers have already returned to the Marc Drive plant.

“We want to get them back here and back to work as soon as possible,” Waters said.