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Out of the ashes

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MACHINE MAGICIAN: A Snavely Machine and Manufacturing employee works diligentlyat his post.
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RESIN UP: Resin Impregnation is a pivotalstep in strengthening the integrity of parts and components at Snavely Machine and Manufacturing.

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

Snavely Machine and Manufacturing has been a high-production automotive company since 1968 when the company was founded by Jim Snavely.

The company uses high-tech equipment to cut and craft steel into automotive parts for clients such as Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Audi and Harley Davidson, according to Snavely Chief Financial Officer Jason Amonett.

“One of our parts goes into about every Chrysler vehicle sold,” Amonett said.

Similar to so many automotive companies, the company has experienced its fair share of triumphs and hardships.

According to President and CEO Joe Kinney, the company only had 32 employees when he started in 2001, and Snavely had just launched his first big automotive project, which was the front steering knuckle for Dodge Chargers and Challengers.

From there, the company grew and Miami County residents were able to find more jobs within the factory.

“We grew quite a bit up to a little over 100 employees until ‘09 hit and that pretty much devastated anybody in automotive,” Kinney said.

Snavely Machine and Manufacturing did everything it could to survive the recession, including resorting to returning to a 35-person workforce.

According to Amonett, the whole automotive industry essentially crashed, which set many companies back and bankrupted quite a few of them.

“That’s when Chrysler went bankrupt, GM went bankrupt; Ford luckily didn’t, and that’s when all the government bailouts of the automotive industry happened,” he said.

At that point in time, Snavely Machine and Manufacturing was tied so closely to Chrysler-- who was taking months off-- that it really hurt the company, according to Amonett.

“We really struggled to keep the place open, but we did it and got through it,” Kinney said. “And then, we’ve slowly grown back.”

Currently, the company has about 175 employees on their workforce and Amonett expects to have 190 employees by the end of the year.

“We have solid growth in the next two years coming from a couple of our major production lines,” Amonett said.

Snavely Machine and Manufacturing is embracing changes in the company by investing $4.8 million into 12 pieces of machinery for the company. The company is also putting $250,000 into renovating unused warehouse space into new loading docks to meet increasing product demand.

The additional space and machines are expected to create 20 new jobs as the company adds positions for operators – those who load and unload the trucks – truck drivers and quality inspectors.

The investment will also help secure the positions of the 170-plus employees who currently work for Snavely, according to Miami County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jim Tidd.

“This is great news for the community,” he said.

The community is also embracing the changes coming to the company seeing as the Peru Common Council approved Snavely Machine and Manufacturing for a five-year tax abatement during their June meeting.

The abatement is going to help the company immensely as they work to expand their business.

“We appreciate the community’s support in helping us grow,” Amonett said.

Snavely Machine and Manufacturing is currently working on their expansion and Kinney expects the new additions to be up and running by September.