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Published: Wednesday, 7/11/2007

Danish firm set to start up in Ohio Art space

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
Mayor Douglas Johnson, outside the plant, says the operation to make game and movie packages is 'great for Bryan.' Mayor Douglas Johnson, outside the plant, says the operation to make game and movie packages is 'great for Bryan.'
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BRYAN - Machinery is being installed in the new G&M Media Packaging Inc. plant inside the sprawling Ohio Art Co. manufacturing complex, and the Danish-owned facility is to begin production of metal packaging for video games and movie DVDs this month.

Kim Miller, plant manager, said he hopes the $10 million plant and U.S. headquarters operation will employ as many as 50 within a few years.

The plant will be able to produce many millions of metal packages yearly, Mr. Miller said. Each machine can produce 76 packages a minute, or 4,560 an hour, around the clock.

"A major movie would require 2 to 3 million pieces," he said, noting that among the likely customers are such entertainment firms as Warner Bros., Sony Corp., and Walt Disney Co.

"This is great for Bryan," said Mayor Douglas Johnson.

Ohio Art, where employment is down to about 100 from more than 600 three decades ago, also will benefit, by supplying metal lithography to the start-up firm.

The new jobs will help replace the 100 or so lost when Ohio Art moved production of its popular Etch A Sketch drawing toy to China seven years ago.

"This won't impact us directly unless they grow," said Martin L. "Larry" Killgallon II, Ohio Art's president. "But if they go to a second and third line, we will have to take a look and see what we need to do to support that, with additional machinery and people."

As it is, the additional work will help keep Ohio Art's 38 hourly employees in the lithography department busy. "We have been hiring a few people," he added.

The 25,000 square feet initially leased by the subsidiary of Glud & Marstrand SA, of Losning, Denmark, helps fill part of Ohio Art's main manufacturing building. The complex has about 700,000 square feet, now mostly empty, and nearly 300,000 square feet of warehouse space is for sale.

Mr. Miller said he hopes to get the machinery in operation soon to produce SteelBook packages for DVDs and video games. "We are aggressively working as fast as we can. We have orders booked that are due in August."

He has hired most of the staff and managers, 10 to 15 workers in all, needed for the start-up. The firm plans to add another machine next year and a third one later, and eventually three shifts daily.

Ohio's Department of Development, which has granted incentives to G&M, said the 40 promised jobs should pay an average of $21 an hour. However, Mr. Miller said production workers will receive $10 to $12 hourly and managers up to $60,000 a year.

Glud & Marstrand officials considered sites in Illinois and Indiana before deciding on Bryan for its first U.S. plant, Mr. Miller said.

The major customer for the plant, the Danish media distribution firm Scanavo, said in a statement that the Bryan site is ideal because of this "area's expertise and competence in the steel industry" and its "strategic location within a 24 to 48-hour time frame from all major replicators" of DVDs and video games.

Industry experts say such sophisticated packaging is harder to counterfeit and is designed to offer a "quality" look, fetch higher prices, and appeal to collectors. The SteelBook design allows painted or embossed decorations on both the inside and outside of the package.

Having Ohio Art do the metal lithography allows G&M to meet rush orders by cutting down on transportation distances and time, Mr. Killgallon said. The facility is highly automated.

The new firm received state tax credits of $160,000, a $50,000 state grant for equipment costs, and a rebate of up to $60,000 on Bryan's 1.8 percent payroll tax over the next five years.

Contact Homer Brickey at:

homerbrickey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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