VALPARAISO | Paul Wurth Inc. expects to close on the purchase of the vacant Task Force Tips building at 2800 Evans Ave. on Wednesday and hopes to move in by the end of July.
The company will be moving its Portage operation with its 13 employees to the Valparaiso location, Facilities Manager Jim Tommarello said. Tommarello said the 13 might feel a little lost in the much larger building at first, but the company expects to grow into it.
Paul Wurth is an international company based in Luxembourg and serving the steel industry with more than 20 offices around the world.
It designs and builds "the hot end of the steel plant," Tommarello said. That includes blast furnaces, stoves and "everything involved with making iron."
The company needed to expand its service operations, which focuses on servicing its equipment in use in area steel mills, and will make some parts, but Tommarello said most of the parts will be come from local shops.
"We've been lacking in the service end since we started in the states in the 1980s," he said. "We've been giving it to other people, and now we are taking that in-house. Mostly we will rely on local shops to make the parts we need. We do the disassembly, repair and reassembly.
"Between Chicago and South Bend, there are a lot of machine shops we can draw on for help, and we will be attaching ourselves to them."
The company opened in Portage just three years ago, which Tommarello said was "right after the downturn and the big crash." It turned out to be a good time to make the move because "the deals were too good to pass up at the time. Having money saved to invest, it was the right time to do so."
The company is expected to apply for tax abatement on the building, and Tommarello said it will take time to install the cranes needed and to remodel the offices. The city granted a variance for heavy trucks to use Evans for delivery of the biggest items brought in for repair. Tommarello said that only happens about once a year.
"We were hopeful they were getting to this point," Valparaiso Economic Development Director Matt Murphy said. "The fact they want to open in Valparaiso is great for us. These are quality jobs. The Task Force Tips building has been on the market for some time, and it is a great thing for them to get it off their books."