Make your home page

BUTLER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Sweden-based automotive supplier says it will shut down its DeKalb County operations. In a notice to the state, CJ Automotive says it will close its facility in Butler this summer, affecting 110 employees.

The company, which supplies pedal systems to automotive manufacturers such as Ford, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, did not provide a reason for the closure. The facility is expected to permanently close July 1 with layoffs beginning June 17.

Of the affected employees, 75 are represented by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Local 735. CJ Automotive didn’t say whether any assistance would be provided to the workers.

Inside INdiana Business has reached out to CJ Automotive for more information but has not yet received a response.

CJ Automotive has offices and manufacturing operations in Sweden, Germany, South Korea, China, and Michigan.

BUTLER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A carbon-steel products processor headquartered in DeKalb County is adding to its portfolio. Paragon Steel has acquired Cleveland-based Buckeye Metals Industries Inc., though financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. 

Paragon General Manager Bruce Whitman says the two companies have been industry partners for several years and calls the acquisition a “win-win.” He says the deal will allow both companies to better serve their customers and grow in the flat-rolled steel market.

Buckeye Metals was owned by the Ison family and Paragon says Chief Executive Officer Bruce Ison will remain as emeritus chairman of the Buckeye board. The acquired company will continue to operate under the Buckeye Metals Industries division name and other members of the Ison family will maintain leadership roles.

“We have immense respect for the Ison family, and the fantastic industrial legacy they have built over many years through this company,” added Jerry Henry, owner of Paragon Steel.  “We have very similar company cultures, with both built on a focus on integrity and putting people first. We are excited about the future of the steel industry and the opportunity to grow with the Buckeye team.”

Bruce Ison called the acquisition a “perfect fit” and expects an easy transition of ownership.

BUTLER and LAGRANGE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Elkhart-based Forest River Inc. is growing its northeast Indiana manufacturing footprint. The recreational vehicle manufacturer says it will invest a total of $7 million to expand operations in DeKalb and LaGrange counties and create up to 369 jobs by the end of 2023.

Forest River will invest $3.5 million to build and equip a 63,000-square-foot production facility and expand its existing 30,000-square-foot building in Butler. The company says the expansion will allow it to boost production of its XLR Toy Hauler line.

Construction is underway and is expected to be complete by February. 

Additionally, another $3.5 million is being invested to build and equip a 95,000-square-foot facility in LaGrange, which is designed to increase manufacturing capacity for the company’s Cherokee RV line. 

Forest River plans to break ground on the LaGrange project in October. 

“We’re excited to continue expanding our operations in Indiana, which provides access to a talented workforce, strong RV manufacturing ecosystem and business-friendly environment,” said Mike Stump, project manager at Forest River. “With the support of the state and local communities in Butler and LaGrange, Forest River will continue to deliver high-quality products to customers around the world, while providing great career opportunities for Hoosiers here at home.”

The expansion is expected to create 120 jobs in Butler and 249 jobs in LaGrange. The company says it plans to begin hiring at both locations in January for manufacturing, operations, administrative, and management positions.

Forest River employs some 9,500 Hoosiers at 10 locations throughout the state.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Forest River up to $4.1 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The city of Butler and the town of LaGrange will consider additional incentives.

BUTLER, Ind. (WANE) — The Butler Police Department on Tuesday released a body cam video that shows one of their officers helping to rescue a woman from a fire that consumed a downtown building late last month.

It was Jan. 30 when a fire broke out inside a building at 117 South Broadway, which included a second-story apartment. The fire injured seven people as well as two Butler police officers who were first to respond to the fire and helped people get out of the building.

In the body cam video, two Butler Police officers are shown working to rescue people from the fire, including one woman hanging from a second-story window. At one point in the video, the officers push a trailer over to the wall of the building, steady a ladder on top of it and then pull a woman from a window.

No one was seriously hurt in the fire. Most of the injuries were from smoke inhalation, although one person suffered burns to their hands and face. Several people inside the building jumped from windows to safety.

More than 60 firefighters from 17 fire departments assisted.

It’s still not clear what caused the fire. The building was a total loss and will be taken down in the near future.

The woman officers pulled out of the window was Barbara Mynatt. She said Tuesday she doesn’t remember the rescue. Two of her loved ones jumped from the window before her. Officer Adam Watts helped everyone catch them. Mynatt was the last to jump but passed out after getting her dog out of the window. Then Chief James Nichols showed up. They found the old wooden ladder and put it on a trailer so Nichols could reach Mynatt.

Watts described it as a scary and intense moment.

“It just kind of reaffirmed to me that in this job you can be like I was, just sitting there watching traffic, and thirty seconds later you’re staring up at a building completely on fire and people are trying to jump out of it,” Watts said.

Nichols said they had to act fast. “There really wasn’t time to think. There was only time to react.”

He also said he’s never experienced anything this intense, even after two combat tours in Iraq and 28 years as a police officer.

“It was a miracle. It really was. This was probably one of the most intense things I’ve ever been involved in and I’ve been shot at in this job twice,” Nichols said

Mynatt gave credit to the two and her family who helped with saving her life. Seeing the video showed her what happened and instantly made her emotional.

“I just started crying,” Mynatt said. “I was so thankful that the chief was there and did what he did to save my life because if it wasn’t for him, I would not be here today. My kids would be putting me away.”

Nichols echoed the teamwork and sense of community during the fire and afterward.

“I am extremely proud as the chief of police of our community and how brave some of the individuals were that day assisting us to save these people’s lives,” Nichols said.

There will be a ceremony in a couple weeks for everyone who was at the fire working to help get everyone out and those who escaped.