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Phoenix caps repurposing efforts with grand opening

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Making the opening of the Greencastle Phoenix Closures plant official, Mayor Sue Murray (second from left) and Phoenix Director of Engineering Bill Feigl (center) cut the ribbon on the new facility. Feigl was credited by Phoenix President Bert Miller (second from right) as the man who envisioned the complete reinvention of the Oxford Automotive Facility on Greencastle's south side. Holding the ribbon for the ceremony are Phoenix Vice President of Manufacturing Ed Buck (left) and Greencastle/Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory, two more men instrumental in making the new facility a reality.
(Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN) [Order this photo]
In mythology, the Phoenix -- a sacred and colorful firebird -- rose from its own ashes to live again in immortality.

In reality, Greencastle has seen Phoenix Closures rise not from the ashes of Oxford Automotive but from the rusty remains of that old Greencastle Manufacturing plant to become a state-of-the-art facility that celebrated its grand opening Tuesday morning.

Repurposing a building like the 223,000-square-foot Oxford plant on the city's southwest side is nothing new for Phoenix, a 122-year-old company based in Naperville, Ill.

In fact, the massive Greencastle renovation is the fourth time Phoenix has undertaken such a repurposing venture.

Its Naperville plant was once a printing press company, Vice President of Manufacturing Ed Buck, who served as emcee for the grand opening program, noted.

Phoenix's Davenport, Iowa, facility was formerly an automotive stamping plant and its Newport, Tenn., plant was a book bindery in a previous life.

Buck called it all an extension of Phoenix's "being green" company philosophy.

"Also an aspect of our being green," he said "is our repurposing of existing facilities. We like to call it 'this old factory.'"

The result in Greencastle, Buck said, "is a world class facility" that specializes in injection-molded closures for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and household chemical industries.

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray pointed to perseverance and pride as two underlying factors serving the community well in fostering its partnership with Phoenix.

"This is an absolutely phenomenal addition to our local economy," she said of Phoenix's rise to local prominence.

"There's not another mayor in Indiana who has a better job than I have today," she added.

On display at Tuesday's Phoenix Closures grand opening ceremony were dozens of examples of the more than 700 closure products manufactured by the company at its four production facilities.
(Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN)
Greencastle/Putnam County Economic Development Center Executive Director Bill Dory, who received kudos for his efforts on the project from each of the speakers who preceded him, said Tuesday's occasion was "the culmination of several years of work."

"It truly was a team effort of the state, our economic partners, the community and the company," he said.

Phoenix President Bert Miller, however, extended much of the credit to Dory and Bill Feigl, his company's head of engineering.

"This project is product of Bill Feigl's vision and Bill Dory's patience and perseverance," Miller said, noting that whenever difficulties loomed or obstacles arose, Dory was there to rectify things.

"Bill Dory has a magic wand he uses," Miller smiled, "and he uses it well."

The Greencastle plant will be staffed with 90 employees once at full capacity. Some of the personnel have relocated to the area, Buck said, while most have left other local jobs to join Phoenix.

"(It's) not only that they put in long hours," he said of the employees, "but they have put their hearts and souls into this plant."

President Miller even went beyond that.

"If you're not competitive everywhere in the world, you're not competitive anywhere," Miller said. "I believe this plant will make us competitive everywhere in the world."

Phoenix makes more than 700 different items and has more than 200 million caps in inventory at any time, Buck said, indicating the firm's business philosophy revolves around a desire to be an industry leader in creating those closures.

Buck said 75 percent of the company's business is in the food and beverage area.

Phoenix products can be found capping off packages of products produced by such companies as Nestlé, Kraft Foods, Dean Foods and Smuckers.

The Greencastle facility, now 50,000 square feet larger than it was under previous operations, is the third new plant Phoenix Closures has opened since 2000.

As Oxford Automotive, it had been unoccupied for the past six years.

Laughing at a gift they hope never to use, Phoenix Closures Vice President of Manufacturing Ed Buck (left) and President Bert Miller display a pair of flashlights given to them by Greencastle/Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory. The tongue-in-cheek gift was a nod by Dory to the box of flashlights he kept in his car while the former Oxford Automotive plant sat vacant on Greencastle's south side. Parties interested in buying the facility -- including Phoenix management -- had to tour the plant by flashlight, battling darkness and the elements, all the while dodging the pits that housed old manufacturing equipment.
(Banner Graphic/JARED JERNAGAN) [Order this photo]
Getting back to the repurposing effort, Buck summarized, "We appreciate it is now called Phoenix Closures instead of Oxford Automotive."

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