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Published: 5/8/2008

Region projects economic power with products ranging from cars to candy

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
Pictured is a can of Dei Fratelli Tomato & Basil Pasta Sause, a local product. Pictured is a can of Dei Fratelli Tomato & Basil Pasta Sause, a local product.
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Cooper Tire employee Ron Shepard inspects the Discoverer STT and works in the Finishing department. Cooper Tire employee Ron Shepard inspects the Discoverer STT and works in the Finishing department.
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Brand-name products made in northwest Ohio can transport your family, fill your gas tank, fill your stomach, grace your dining-room table, wash your dishes and clothes, and satisfy your sweet tooth.

But these consumer goods also are a very important part of the regional economy. Area manufacturers employ more than 50,000 workers, including many who don t actually make the end product but who make components. Manufacturing plants in the region crank out impressive figures, too.

• Hitting the road: Toledo s automotive factories have produced more than 13 million vehicles in the last 108 years. Last year, Chrysler LLC s mammoth Toledo plant built at a cost of $3.2 billion in the last decade turned out more than 286,000 Jeep Liberty and Wrangler models and Dodge Nitro vehicles. At peak production, a vehicle rolls off the assembly line every minute.

• Gassed up and ready to go: The fuel to power cars is in plentiful supply in these parts, too. Three large refineries can make up to 12 million gallons of gasoline a day: the BP and Sunoco plants in Oregon and the Husky Energy plant in Lima.

• Rubber to the road: Don t forget tires. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. manufactures tires for passenger cars, light trucks, and race cars in Findlay, which also is the firm s headquarters city.

• Containing a tradition: Toledo is called the Glass City for good reason. The oldest glass plant, which belongs to Libbey Inc., dates back 120 years but includes numerous newer additions. If you stacked all of the glasses produced at our Toledo facility in 2007, they would circle the globe 2.5 times, said Ken Boerger, vice president. The company has employed generations of Toledo families. We have identified five family groups that have 1,339 years of combined service.

• On the furniture front: Ready-to-assemble furniture made by Sauder Woodworking Co. in Archbold is a favorite of do-it-yourselfers. The company makes about 700 different products for homes and offices, in addition to such specialty items as church pews and theater seats.

• Cleaning from the bottom up: NSS Enterprises Inc. of Toledo ships its commercial and industrial vacuum cleaners, floor-polishing equipment, and carpet-cleaning machinery to more than 60 countries.

• Appliance reliance: Appliances are big business in northwest Ohio. Whirlpool Corp. operates the world s largest washing-machine factory in Clyde, and its Findlay plant is a major maker of dishwashers, with annual production of 3 million units. A competitor of Whirlpool, the New Zealand firm of Fisher & Paykel Appliances, also makes its line of washing machines in Clyde.

• A taste for food: Farmers in this region supply the raw materials for numerous food-processing plants that bottle and can products for consumers, restaurants, and institutions. H.J. Heinz Co. has its largest ketchup plant in Fremont, a city that also is home to the Fremont Co., a 103-year-old firm that makes Snow Floss and Frank s brands of sauerkraut. For more than half a century, Campbell Soup Co. has made soups, sauces, and juices in its mammoth Napoleon plants.

The company says that it makes enough products in Napoleon annually that, if laid end to end, would circle the globe nine times or stretch from the Earth to the moon. Hirzel Canning Co., of Northwood, ships Dei Fratelli and Star Cross brand tomatoes and sauces and Silver Fleece sauerkraut to store chains all over the Midwest, and it supplies 300-gallon totes of product to such food producers as Stouffer s and Hormel Foods. We make about 4 million cases of product a year, said Steve Hirzel, president of the four-generation, 85-year-old company. That translates into more than 80 million pounds of food.

ConAgra Foods Inc. makes Healthy Choice soups and La Choy products at its Archbold plant. Interstate Bakeries Corp. operates two Wonder Bread plants in the area, in Northwood and in Defiance. Frozen Specialties Archbold plant can produce up to 110 million frozen pizzas annually.

• How sweet it is: Spangler Candy Co. has been making candy in Bryan for 102 years, and its product line includes candy canes, Dum Dum Pops, and Saf-T-Pops. We make 9 million Dum Dums a day, said Dean Spangler, president. He added that the company makes 2 billion pieces of candy yearly.

• A growth industry: About 80 greenhouses in northwest Ohio grow a wide variety of flowers, including poinsettias, a popular holiday plant.

• And there s more ... Among the many other products made in the area: flour by Mennel Milling Co. in Fostoria; solar panels by First Solar Inc., at a plant in Perrysburg; upscale doors by Therma-Tru Corp. in Maumee; fertilizer and turf products by The Andersons Inc. in Maumee; Pillsbury cake mixes and pancake mixes from J.M. Smucker Co. s Toledo plant; cookies from Consolidated Biscuit Co. in McComb, and turkeys from Cooper Farm in Oakwood, Ohio.

Contact Homer Brickey at:homerbrickey@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.



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