The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 12, 2013

Cristal to build $64 million facility

Ashtabula County’s largest manufacturer to hire 25 new full-time employees

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — The county’s largest manufacturer announced  plans to add a $64 million expansion to its Middle Road facility.

The expansion, an air separation plant to support the facility’s manufacturing of titanium dioxide, will include $45 million in fixed assets, hiring 25 new full-time employees and the retention of Cristal’s existing workforce of about 570 people.

The new facility will be built on Middle Road across the street from Cristal Plant 2 South. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2014.

Site Director Scott Strayer, along with local and state officials, made the announcement Friday in a ceremony at Cristal’s training center on Middle Road.

“This is an exciting day as this project will support increased production capacity by 20 percent,” he said. “It will allow the company to manufacture its own liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon as well as offer these new products to the liquid gases market.”

The expansion also will include a new control room, truck loading facilities, several large compressors, pumping stations and a distillation column/cold box.

Cristal now buys liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon from Praxair Inc. in Ashtabula. Its contract with Praxair ends at the end of 2015.

Mike Grubba, manager of procurement at Cristal, said the company’s relationship with Praxair will continue until Cristal’s new plant starts up — projected in October 2015.

AMCS Corp., a leading global supplier of industrial gas and process plants, technology and engineering services, is partnering with Cristal on the project, Grubba said.

Grubba and Ishmael Chalabi, chief executive officer of AMCS, unveiled an artist’s drawing of the new facility.

Chalabi said he was honored to participate in Friday’s event.

Ashtabula County Commissioner Joseph Moroski said the project is a clear indicator that the county is moving in a positive direction.

Brian Anderson, executive director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, said it’s an exciting project.

“Growth Partnership is happy to have been able to support Cristal on this project,” he said. “Congratulations to Cristal for making this investment in Ashtabula County.”

Aaron Pitts, managing director for Jobs Ohio, said he was thrilled to be there.

“We admire Cristal’s values and mission to create a clearer, brighter future,” he said.

Cristal’s Ashtabula complex consists of two facilities — Plant 1 and Plant 2 — that produce titanium dioxide, a bright white powder made from titanium ore that has the ability to pigment virtually any material. The company is the world’s second-largest producer of this product.

The Ashtabula complex is Cristal’s largest titanium dioxide production plant and accounts for 30 percent of the company’s overall production.

In May 2007, Cristal was formed when The National Titanium Dioxide Co. Ltd. (Cristal) bought U.S.-based Millennium Inorganic Chemicals.