MIDDLEBURY — Aluminum processing company Champagne Metals held a ribbon cutting and open house Wednesday to show off its new 85,000-square-foot facility in Middlebury.
Mike Champagne, president and chief executive officer of the company said the Oklahoma-based company wanted to have operations in the area in order to better serve local manufacturers.
“We’re very, very excited to be here,” he said.
“We’ve made an investment in this area that no one else is willing to do,” Champagne said. “Every one that comes into (this market) will go to Chicago and Detroit because it’s where the big markets are.”
“To build our physical location here, to cover this market to cover it like no one’s ever done before, then we’ll go to the major markets with our trucks out of here. We plan on being very important to the manufacturers here,” he said.
Champagne said that from the new Middlebury plant they can ship cut aluminum to customers in Chicago, Detroit and even Canada.
However, the market in the immediate area is just as important.
According to Champagne, more aluminum is used in Elkhart County than any county in the country. The aluminum is used by boat manufacturers, enclosed trailer businesses and the recreational vehicle industry.
“There might be one or two other machines in North America that can cut an 80-inch wide piece of aluminum,” he said.
Currently, the Middlebury facility has around 30 employees. Champagne said the company has the land to add another 85,000 square feet of factory space as is needed. He said that could be as soon as the next two years.
Champagne said that a company like his, which is a distributor, would have a maximum of around 60 employees.
Plant manager Doug Bitting, who has worked 40 years in the metal industry and the last eight working with aluminum, said that he has never worked for a company with as nice a facility at Champagne.
“For a company to come up here and build a place like this, it’s outstanding,” Bitting said. “It makes my job easier.”
The 17-year-old company cuts aluminum for boat pontoons, enclosed trailers, recreational vehicle and other manufacturing processes. The company is headquartered in Glenpool, Okla.