Local investors announce OCECO acquisition and expansion

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President & CEO Mike Ruhe and Manufacturing & Marketing Manager Keith Ricker

Total investment to exceed $2.5 million

TIFFIN, OHIO – August 10, 2017 – Investors announced this week the purchase of OCECO Inc., located in the Airport Industrial Park in Tiffin, as well as plans to expand the business. The new owners have purchased the business, and are in the process to purchase the real estate, as well as invest in new equipment. They also plan on adding six new employees to the existing workforce.

President and CEO Mike Ruhe sees room for growth in the business: “We have identified opportunities to expand sales, and we are very impressed with the employees; they know we need to grow and they are ready.”

Founded in 1921, OCECO is a fabricator of high quality safety equipment for flammable liquid storage and wastewater gas disposal systems. They supply airports and energy companies like Marathon and Exxon Mobile and also do a large amount of business with municipalities, food production, and factory farms. Key products include fittings, flame arrestors and gas purification systems. They operate out of a 38,000 square foot facility in the Airport Industrial Park and have nine employees.

Seneca County Commission President Mike Kerschner is pleased to see the company grow: “OCECO has been a presence in the community for many years. It’s great to see new investment breathing new life into an existing company.”

The purchase of OCECO has been in development for more than a year, and the new owners are working with several banks, SIEDC, and other partners to obtain funding and receive assistance with export promotion and energy efficiency incentives. Previous owner Dick Borer, who purchased the company from Pettibone, worked diligently in finding new leadership to keep the business in Tiffin, and will be assisting with the transition.

About OCECO
OCECO – originally an abbreviation of Oil Conservation Engineering Company – was started in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921, and was the first supplier of a complete line of venting and tank fitting equipment.

About SIEDC
Started in 1983, the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on in Tiffin and Seneca County at www.senecasuccess.com.

Taylor Elchert Photography

Meet Taylor Elchert Harrison, owner of Taylor Elchert Photography, located at 113 Melmore St. in Tiffin. Taylor began taking pictures as a hobby, and nine years ago, at the age of 15, launched her own business out of her parents’ home.

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“It was fun,” she said. “My parents were very supportive, and I was so young I didn’t have that pressure to make money.”

Taylor’s family is no stranger to entrepreneurship – her father is the owner of Fort Ball Pizza. Though they have two very different businesses, Taylor said she learned about owning a business watching how hard her dad works at it. “I am inspired by my dad,” she said.

Taylor decided while going to college that she wanted to make photography her profession. “At first I was planning on doing it on the side,” she said. “When I decided it was a full time career, I got serious about it. I needed a storefront.”

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The studio space allows her more freedom in her photo sessions and props. Her building houses a plethora of props, and there is always a seasonal set in place. “The set is real, that’s really important to me,” she said. “It’s all about the experience for the client.”

Taylor specialized in capturing “milestone” moments in peoples’ lives. Her services include photos for maternity, family, births, newborns, and children.

One unique aspect of Taylor’s studio is the finished product and her push away from digital files. “Digital doesn’t last forever. I provide my clients with wall art, and a variety of other tangible products,” she said.

Check out Taylor’s work on her website or Facebook.

Nature-based preschool to open in August

IMG_0312Discovery Woods Preschool, a nature-based preschool and after school education facility, will open at 67 St. Francis Ave. in Tiffin this month. The non-profit program aims to prepare children from 18 months to 5 years for school, teaching traditional childhood education combined with a nature-based approach.

Discovery Woods Preschool offers several programs in a nature based curriculum with an emphasis on project based learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

The school is split into four different programs:

  • Caterpillar Cove – Infant/Toddler Program for children 18 – 30 months – Provides children a positive environment to explore with the guidance and support of an infant toddler teacher who designs developmentally appropriate lessons to help children become more familiar with their world. Staff encourage communication, walking, exploring, and learning.
  • Butterfly Landing – Preschool class for children 2.5 – 3 years – Introduces children to flexible routines with circle time, small group work, and center based exploration to develop their project based interests. Activities include dramatic play areas – such as a grocery store, hair salon, or flower shop – building with blocks and natural items, water table exploration, painting, and science lessons.  Part Time and Full Day Program available.
  • Rainbow Path – Kindergarten Readiness Program for children 4 – 5 years – Encompasses more structured play based routines with two circle times, small group and a morning work time to prepare children for Kindergarten.  Children will be introduced to the Pre-K Ohio Department of Education Content Standards.  They will learn the alphabet, letter sounds, patterns, numbers, and reading basic color and sight words. This program also includes the project approach where children participate in a year long project or two based on their interests, which guide the teachers lessons.   The children’s projects are displayed at the end of the year Watch Me Work at Night event.
  • Tree Top Trail – After School Enrichment for students K-5th grade – Includes tutoring in a child’s specific area of need, engaging STEAM projects such as creating robots, drawing in 3D, and tending to the school garden.

The staff is trained in childhood development and first aid, and the Kindergarten Readiness Program is taught by educators with an Elementary Teaching license. All staff also participate in continuing education classes related to the growth and development of the age level they teach.

While their official grand opening and family open house is set for August 12, families are invited to participate in a nature scavenger hunt at Hedges-Boyer Park on August 5 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. for a day of fun and to learn more about the programs.

For more information, visit their website.

Seneca County Fair celebrates 175 years

fair logoThis year marks the 175th Seneca County Fair, making it the second oldest county fair in Ohio. At seven days, it is also one of the longest county fairs in the state. The event features livestock exhibitions, live entertainment and other activities for people of all ages.

Seneca County Fair Board member Aaron Howell says this year will have several special features. “A glass-blower will be there, creating commemorative items for the event, there will be a raffle for rides on the Re/Max hot air balloon, and we have invited every previous fair king and queen we could find to a special dinner,” he said. “We’re even bringing back the cow chip throwing contest and dunk tank!”

The Seneca County Fair began 175 years ago as a street fair located first at Rock Creek, and later on Frost Parkway.  The fair found it’s permanent home on the current property, in 1885. Today, it sprawls across 80 acres and attracts 50,000 guests each year.

Every year, more than a thousand kids from across the county participate in the fair through 4H and the Junior Fair Board, exhibiting animals and hands-on projects they work on throughout the year. Additionally, there are children’s rides (only 50 cents per ride), a wide range of food vendors, antique farm equipment, and live entertainment every night of the week. There is live music in the entertainment building Tuesday through Sunday, with acts including Nashville Crush and the Eric Sowers Band, two nights of rodeo, harness racing, horse and tractor pulls, and more. This year’s demolition derby is on track to be one of the largest yet.

Admission to the fair is just $7 per day or $22 for the whole week. Veterans get a special discount on Monday and Seniors on Tuesday, just $2.

Bilger’s Lawn and Landscape

Bilger's Ribbon CuttingMeet Brian Bilger, owner of Bilger’s Lawn and Landscape, located at 1761 N. SR 53 in Tiffin. Brian started his landscaping business out of his parents’ garage in 1999 and 17 years later the business is still going strong and growing.

He began mowing lawns in his neighborhood when he was nine, and continued throughout high school. He started the business in his parents’ garage and attended classes in landscape contracting and horticulture science at Ohio State University and Columbus State Community College during the off-season.

Bilger soon outgrew the garage, moved to a larger space, and finally rented a space on SR 53 North of Tiffin. Last year, they built and moved into their own building at  1761 N. SR 53 (a $300,000 investment), giving them more room for storage, including their new storage building and swing set installation services. The company currently employs 18-20 individuals, and Brian says they are comfortable at that number. “We are working on our internal system and setting a standard of quality,” he said.

Brian is also actively involved in the Tiffin community. Several years ago his design skills landed him on a sub-committee of Tiffin Tomorrow, a group dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Tiffin. In 2014, it was absorbed by SIEDC, with the original group serving as the downtown leadership board, and Brian is still a key member of the board. He is also a member of the Tiffin Community Reinvestment Group, the group responsible for the purchase and revitalization of the Laird Arcade in downtown Tiffin.

Additionally, Brian is a part of the Seneca County Home Builders Association, a group of building professionals who hold educational and networking events for their industry partners as well as assist community organizations. He also takes part in their yearly Home Expo event.

“Tiffin is home,” he said. “I love everything about it. I feel fortunate to be here, and everyone has been really great. I want to give back.”

Bilger’s is able to help with all of your landscape needs including digital landscape design, installation, maintenance, lighting, water features, paver patios/retaining walls, drip irrigation, lawn treatment programs, swing sets/storage sheds and retail landscape materials. Check out their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or visit their website.

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Tiffin and Seneca County win $220,000 for road improvement

20170629_151509.jpgGrant supports $1M commercial access project

TIFFIN, OHIO – July 5, 2017 – The City of Tiffin has been granted $220,000 through the Ohio Department of Transportation Jobs and Commerce for an improvement project on US 224; a 25 percent match with the city for a project totaling $1 million. It will provide access to a 60-acre site for potential commercial development annexed by the city earlier this year.

The grant is the first received by the Seneca County Transportation Improvement District (TID) created by Seneca County Commissioners in September 2015. “The district was put in place with the future of the county in mind,” Commissioner Shayne Thomas, head of the county’s transportation sub-committee, said. “This project is the first of many for which we plan to secure TID funding.”

Last year, Tiffin, Fostoria and Seneca County representatives collaborated to update and reprioritize the county’s Transportation Improvement Plan. Originally created in 2001, the plan was revised with a clear focus on key projects throughout the county. The revision was approved by all groups, as well as the TID Committee, composed of engineers, elected officials, and economic development organizations from each jurisdiction.

Charlene Watkins, Executive Director of Seneca Regional Planning Commission Executive Director commended the partnership between Seneca County organizations in securing the grant. “The foundation is in place and all parties are working to implement the plan,” she said. “We appreciate SIEDC’s work with different entities to gather information and submit the application, as well as the involvement of State Representative Bill Reineke and State Senator Dave Burke, and everyone else who had a hand in the process.”

About SIEDC
Started in 1983, the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC) is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to driving positive economic, downtown, and community development in Tiffin and Seneca County, Ohio, which consistently ranks among the top communities nationally for economic development. Learn more about the great things going on in Tiffin and Seneca County at www.senecasuccess.com.

Tiffin awarded $1.6M grant for streetscape project

City of Tiffin LogoMiami Street improvements slated for 2018

TIFFIN, OHIO – July 3, 2017 – The City of Tiffin has received funding for the reconstruction of Miami Street through the Ohio Department of Transportation Small Cities Program, up to $1,636,850, which covers 95% of the $1,723,000 streetscaping project.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz is looking forward to beginning the project. “This is a long overdue project that will increase the safety of the road as well as beautify the area,” he said. “The City of Tiffin continues to apply for grants like the Small Cities Program to continue improving our infrastructure while easing the burden on taxpayers.”

The proposed work consists of road reconstruction, new curbs, sidewalks, and lighting, over an approximate length of 2000 feet on Miami Street, from Nelson Street to just east of Clay Street, where the previous project terminated.

This will be a cooperative project with Tiffin University, which will be paying a proportionate share of the local contribution, and covering the costs of non-grant covered items that are of an aesthetic nature, which primarily consist of decorative lighting and textured crosswalks.

“We are excited to partner with the city on this project,” Tiffin University President Lilian Schumacher said. “The continuation of the streetscape enhances our campus and improves walkability of the area for our students.”

Design is expected to conclude early in 2018, with contract award to take place by June of the same year. This schedule may be extended if problems are encountered in the design phase.

Seneca County to hold second Manufacturing Showcase

Local manufacturers to demonstrate skilled trades to high school students

TIFFIN, OHIO – June 27, 2017 – The Seneca Department of Job and Family Services/OhioMeansJobs is partnering with local organizations and manufacturers to hold Seneca County’s second Manufacturing Showcase on October 13, 2017 at the Heminger Center on the Tiffin University campus. The event is an opportunity for area students to learn about careers in manufacturing and participate in hands-on skill demonstrations.

Carol Kern of Seneca DJFS is looking forward to another successful event: “Last year we were able to introduce more than 700 students to skills used in manufacturing careers in Seneca County. With the feedback from last year, we are confident that we can provide another positive experience for students and local companies alike.”

The showcase will focus on six skills: team building, lean practices, employability, machining, supply chain and mechanical engineering/electrical trades/automation. For each skill, there are six spaces available for a hands-on demonstration.

Eleven schools within Seneca County will send nearly 800 students to participate in the showcase. The event will last a full day, with students split into one morning session and one afternoon session. Lunch will be provided at no cost.

Several manufacturers are already on board; Callies Performance Products, and The Mennel Milling Company of Fostoria have signed on as well as National Machinery, Webster Industries, and Toledo Molding & Die of Tiffin. If you would like more information, to make a donation, or to sign up for a space at the showcase, please contact Carol at 419.447.5011 ext. 322, or visit http://senecashowcase.wordpress.com.

 

2017 Sentinel’s most successful year yet

sentinel logoThe 2016-2017 school year was another record setter for Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Centers. The stats for the Tiffin campus are astounding:

August 2016 – May 2017

  • 96% Skill Attainment/WebXam (CTE end of course exam) passage rate among 2017 graduates.
  • 99% 12pt. industrial credential passage rate among 2017 graduates. Industrial Credential Examples: Pro Start, NATEF/ASE, NCCER, NIMS, AWS, STNA, APCO-911, to name only a few.
  • 94% or higher retention rate from the first day of school to the last.
  • 2016-2017 total enrollment: 532, with 180 Career Technology Education graduates.
  • 2017 placement rate: 50% Career, 35% College (2/4 year/or apprenticeship program) & 15% military.
  • 43 State Champions among career technical student organizations (SkillsUSA, FFA & Educators Rising).

Sentinel Career & Technology Center Director Elissa Heal is looking forward to another successful school year this fall, expanding business and industry relationships and offering new outlets for students.

“Continuing to strengthen relationships with the business community is a priority at Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Centers,” she said. “Each of our 15 career programs have a business advisory team made up of industry/educational representatives from their career field. Offering high quality career technical education to students in our community is a top priority.”

Expanding upon character education – one of the pillars of all VSCTC programs – Drug Free Clubs will be offered starting this fall in addition to other programs designed to serve both the students and community.  VSCTC is also rolling out the “Bronze-Platnum” program model, which will expand options for students and provide opportunities to area businesses and industries. The program is still in development; more information will be provided this fall.

About VSCTC
Vanguard-Sentinel Career & Technology Centers have been providing quality career technical education since 1968.  The district provides students with specific, marketable skills to begin a career, pursue further training or attend college.  For more information about programs, or to apply to be a student, visit www.vsctc.org.

DC Weld Tech to offer welding basics

Welding it togetherLocal welder Dave Clark is hoping to make a difference in his community with a training program for out-of-practice or aspiring welders. The aim of DC Weld Tech is to enrich the community by offering a cost-effective training program in the field of welding in a one on one setting.

From Dave:

“We feel this important to the community to offer a skilled trades training which will open to doors to those individuals looking to better themselves by obtaining a better job or if they choose to further their education in the field.

“We have been a family owned and operated welding and fabricating company for over 20 years. Now we would like to share what we have learned over those years with our community with our new company DC Weld Tech. This new venture will allow us to to give back to our neighbors by offering a skilled trades training program in the field of welding. This course will be cost effective in a one on one setting. These individuals will be able to obtain a job in the field, the knowledge to take a certification test, or to further their education at a higher level. Our hope is to be able to offer this course to anyone with a willingness to learn who may not be able to afford college and would benefit from a one on one setting.”

For more information, visit www.dcweldtech.com.