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NEW HAVEN (Inside INdiana Business) – Tennessee-based residential services company Frontier Service Partners is expanding into Indiana with the acquisition of Korte Does It All in New Haven. Frontier says Korte, which provides residential HVAC, plumbing and electrical services in the Fort Wayne area, builds on its existing Midwestern footprint.

Frontier says the deal marks its second acquisition. The company acquired Haley Mechanical in Michigan in September.

“Frontier is excited to welcome the Korte Does It All team into the Frontier family,” said Dean Fulton, chief executive officer of Frontier. “Dave Korte and Kevin Kratzman, Korte’s owners, have built an exceptional residential services company with a strong local reputation and a long history of proven leadership for over 50 years. Frontier is eager to work with them to build on that strength and further grow the team and service capability. We intend to invest heavily in the Midwest more broadly and Indiana specifically as we build a multi-regional home services company and are happy to partner with a brand as exceptional as Korte.”

According to Frontier, Korte will continue to operate under its local brand. Dave Korte will remain general manager of the company’s Korte Does It All division. Frontier says Kevin Kratzman will serve as regional controller for the Midwest region.

“We are confident that in partnership with Frontier, we will continue to build on our legacy together, foster our culture, and invest to further accelerate Korte’s growth,” said Kevin Kratzman, co-owner of Korte. “Dave and I could not be more excited about the future of the company as part of Frontier.”

Both Kratzman and Dave Korte will become shareholders in Frontier.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Ohio-based furniture manufacturer is growing its operations in Allen County in response to demand that has increased during the pandemic. Sauder Woodworking Co. says it is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to lease and equip a 100,000-square-foot facility in the Cedar Oak Industrial Park in New Haven with plans to add more than 50 jobs. The company is using the facility to package IKEA kitchen cabinet bases that are manufactured at its Ohio location.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sauder said the company was looking for a larger labor pool as it sought to expand.

“We first look at good facilities. We like buildings that are quality buildings with the right access and foundations. We like the access to the highways…and then we like good people,” said Sauder. “We want to establish ourselves in a community that’s going to provide the kind of employees that we have here in Archibold [Ohio] and so we felt that the New Haven/Fort Wayne area in general could do that for us.”

In 2017, Sauder subsidiary Sauder Manufacturing Co. announced plans to set up operations at the industrial park and create up to 60 jobs. The new facility, construction of which was recently completed, is located across the parking lot and is the final space to be filled in the industrial park.

In addition to IKEA, Sauder manufactures ready-to-assemble furniture for other major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Amazon and Office Depot. Sauder says business flourished during the pandemic, which created the need to expand.

“It worked well in this particular case that we had the right product and could sell it in the right way and America seemed to respond well do that,” he said.

Sauder says while it is unlikely that the New Haven facility will transform into a production location, there is still potential for growth. Right now, the company is focused on filling the jobs it needs to add more packaging lines.

“We’re not sure if we’ll be packaging IKEA product there or a Walmart product over the long term, but it most likely will be soft of a final assembly or final packaging facility. It’s a small, kind of a hub-and-spoke sort of operation for us where we’re shipping in parts and shipping back packaged furniture and that seems to work well. Potentially, we could expand that in the future but right now, [the facility] looked like it was the right size for our needs for the next few years.”

South Bend-based Bradley Co. represented the owner of the building in the leasing process. The firm says having the facility leased before it was completed shows the need for additional industrial space in the New Haven area.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Chicago-based gourmet popcorn and popcorn seasoning company has announced plans to relocate to northeast Indiana. Dell Cove Spices & More Co. says it will invest more than $230,000 to establish operations in New Haven and create up to 50 jobs by the end of 2024.

Dell Cove plans to lease and equip a 7,000-square-foot space in the Allen County city. The company says the move will allow it to expand its popcorn product lines and better meet the needs of retailers and consumers.

“This move made sense both for business and personal reasons,” David Beets, co-founder of Dell Cove, said in a news release. “I grew up in Fort Wayne and still have friends and family here. Every time I would come back here to visit, this whole area seemed to keep growing and growing – and we wanted to be part of that growth. It felt like a perfect time to come home.”

Beets and his wife, Patricia, founded Dell Cove in 2010. The company plans to begin hiring for sales, warehousing and shipping positions in the fall.

As a result of the relocation, Dell Cove is partnering with a local biofuel company to launch a recycling program. The company says recycled packaging will be converted into an ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that farmers and use to run their equipment.

“We are proud to welcome Dell Cove to our community,” said New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael. “We have worked very hard to make New Haven an outstanding place to live, work, play and run a business, and we look forward to working with the Dell Cove team for years to come.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Dell Cove up to $255,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A comic book distribution company has announced plans to set up shop in New Haven. Lunar Distribution LLC, along with sister companies Discount Comic Book Service and InStockTrades, plan to invest more than $7 million to co-locate in a 150,000-square-foot facility in the Cedar Oak Industrial Park and create up to 130 jobs by the end of 2024.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says Lunar Distribution will lease the entire facility and occupy about 100,000 square feet. The company will sublease the remaining space to DCBS and InStockTrades. 

In an email to Inside INdiana Business, co-owner Christina Merkler says the investment includes the lease and maintenance of the building, as well as additional technology, and job training. The investment will be made over the next five years.

Merkler says the new location will allow for optimal efficiency for the companies, and support continued growth.

“Over the last 22 years, we have found that the Ft. Wayne area is a great place for business to grow,” Merkler said. “In the Midwest, Indiana has become an apex for the distribution industry. Our central location between Indianapolis, Chicago, and Columbus makes the Fort Wayne/New Haven area a valuable asset for our logistical needs. The location is conveniently located close to the 469 bypass and FedEx shipping facilities, which will also be beneficial to our employees and customers. The low cost of living, numerous growth opportunities, and less saturated market showed us the potential in staying in Indiana.”

The company was founded by the Merkler family in April 2020 when another distributor closed its doors during the pandemic. Since that time, the Lunar has become a distributor for major comic book publishers, including Marvel and DC. The Merklers founded DCBS in 1999 and InStockTrades in 2004.

GFW says the companies combined employ nearly 100 workers in Indiana. Lunar Distribution plans to hire up to 90 new workers with DCBS and InStockTrades planning to add up to 40 jobs. The companies are looking to fill a variety of positions, including customer service representatives, order pickers and packers, forklift drivers, and tax specialists.

Merkler says the company will begin moving into the facility next week and expect to be fully operational by mid-June.

“This is a big win for our community,” New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael said in a news release. “The shell building that will house these companies is just being completed, and it’s already being filled by these growing businesses. That’s a strong testament to the business-friendly conditions we’ve created here in New Haven.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Lunar Distribution and DCBS a total of up to $950,000 in conditional tax credits, which the companies will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. Northeast Indiana Works plans to provide additional hiring and training assistance.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — One of the winners of the 2018 Stellar Communities designation is nearing completion on the first phase of an $8 million housing project. The NewAllen Alliance says Kady Gene Cove in New Haven features 50 two-bedroom rental units for low-income seniors.

Developed by Fort Wayne-based Keller Development Inc., the project has received affordable housing tax credits from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The NewAllen Alliance says the tax credits were made available through the Stellar designation.

The alliance, which covers Grabill, Leo-Cedarville, Monroeville, New Haven, Woodburn and Allen County, says the project fulfills a community need for affordable senior housing by providing the rental units at or below 60% of the area median income.

“This is an exciting project for the community of New Haven,” said Mayor Steve McMichael. “By offering seniors affordable housing, we are opening homes for new families coming into New Haven as well as providing space for New Haven families to grow. To me, this is truly what the Stellar project is about, taking what makes our city great, the community and providing opportunities for it to grow.”

In addition to the housing units, the project includes a community building with a full kitchen for residents’ use, as well as a fitness room. 

The alliance says construction on phase 2 of the Kady Gene Cove project, which will include an additional 50 units, is expected to begin later this year.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The state of Indiana says it is continuing to aggressively develop and market its hardwood industry, an aspect of Hoosier agriculture that contributes approximately $10.5 billion to the economy.

In February 2019, the state launched the Indiana Hardwood Strategy, a comprehensive assessment of the industry, to provide a roadmap to grow the sector.

Officials from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association on Tuesday toured a variety of northeast Indiana businesses that rely on Hoosier hardwoods.

“If you take (hardwood) as a sector by itself as compared to corn, or soybeans or pork, it’s much bigger than in any of those sectors individually,” said Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “We always say Indiana’s about a $31 billion agriculture state, so you look at $10 to $11 billion. Being hardwoods, it’s the largest sector.”

Indiana has approximately 4.9 million acres of forest land, compared to 5.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million in soybeans.

From logging and milling to wood production industries, hardwood supports 70,000 jobs in the state

According to state data, 10% of the jobs in the Hoosier hardwood industry are involved in logging, while secondary wood products industries, such as cabinet and furniture makers, account for 53% of the jobs.

“I think a lot of people don’t know just how large it is from an economic development perspective,” said Chris Gonso, ISDA hardwoods manager.

Gonso said the state strategy is to keep the raw wood that is grown and harvested in Indiana by attracting and growing those secondary industries. A similar strategy was developed for the state’s dairy industry.

“Some of the goals were to reduce economic leakages and try and process more of that raw product into higher value,” said Gonso. “Increase the economic returns that are generated, through additional manufacturing here in the state. And we wanted to see if we could do something similar with the hardwood industry.”

Gonso said some in-state manufacturers might go out of state looking for specific varieties or qualities of hardwood, not realizing it was already available in Indiana.

“The key is that we want to keep that that industry here. It creates the markets for our lumber, it creates the markets for our logs and keeps our landowners happy and utilizes the very high-quality hardwoods that we have growing in our state.”

Gonso said the total acreage of timberland in the state has steadily increased since the 1960s and forests are currently growing in volume more than 3.3 times the amount being removed annually.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, ISDA Director Bruce Kettler said the state’s hardwood industry is important to Indiana’s economy.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The director of supply chain for California-based Harrington Industrial Plastics LLC says the company decided to set up its new distribution center in New Haven to better support its branches in the Great Lakes region. The company this week cut the ribbon on the more than $2.4 million facility, which is expected to create up to 20 jobs by the end of 2024. Dave Burnett says the facility will be a “great enabler” of sales growth throughout the region.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Burnett said the facility has been several months in the making.

“This process started back in the fall of last year. We actually looked at the building that we’re currently in now in October,” said Burnett. “We finally settled on this location in March and actually signed the lease on it just before (COVID-19) hit really in mid-March so we had to kind of pause for a few weeks to get our bearings and see how things were going to shake out.”

Burnett says because Harrington is a supplier to many industries that were deemed essential, the company was able to stay open with an increased focus on the health and safety of its employees.

“Honestly, we had to make some choices in terms of getting this location up. There were some things that we would like to do – longer-term, further capital investment, further facility improvements that we’d say, ‘You know, this is a more of a nice to have; we definitely want to do this, but what can we do to get this up and running, start generating some business, grow from there?’ And then hopefully, as we get further into that, the economy continues to improve.”

Harrington first announced plans for the facility last week. The company is currently hiring for sales and administrative positions, as well as truck drivers and warehouse staff.

Burnett says the facility will take an incremental approach to service the branches it covers in the region, which will take four to six weeks. He says they will also have the ability to take walk-up traffic for clients who want to pick up products directly. 

“This is a springboard to a tremendous amount of growth potential here in the region and the way that we’ve done it, I think, gives us good flexibility to build out as we go.”

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A California-based industrial piping products distributor is expanding to Allen County. Harrington Industrial Plastics LLC has announced plans to invest more than $2.4 million to establish a distribution center in New Haven and create up to 20 jobs by the end of 2024.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says the new facility will serve the company’s operations throughout the Great Lakes region.

Harrington plans to retrofit an existing building into a 68,000-square-foot distribution center. The IEDC says the facility is expected to be operational by the end of the month.

“The greater Fort Wayne area was where we started our search process for a new regional distribution center because of its central location in relation to many of our branches,” said David Burnett, director of supply chain at Harrington. “We’re tremendously excited about the opportunity to continue our growth in the region; this facility will increase our ability to provide products to our customer base and to house additional resources for our surrounding branches.”

Harrington is currently hiring for sales and administrative positions, as well as truck drivers and warehouse staff. The company employs more than 500 workers throughout the country, including five at its Indianapolis sales branch.

The IEDC has offered Harrington up to $70,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. Northeast Indiana Works says it will also provide additional hiring and training assistance.

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WANE) – A New Haven family wants justice.

They said their son was brutally beaten and they’re calling it a hate crime. The situation has the New Haven police chief defending his department, saying there’s a lot of false information swirling around social media.

The family said they weren’t taken seriously and this beating could have been prevented. The police said they’ll prove they did take it seriously.

On June 6, three boys beat Jason Gardner near a creek and left him nearly unconscious by the time police arrived. He said he’s still feeling a lot of pain from the incident.

“They said, ‘You need to get out. Your mom, you and your family don’t belong here. Go back to Africa where you belong,’ and they just kept hitting me.”

It was those words that lead Gardner’s family to claim he was the victim of a hate crime.

They’ve contacted Larry Gist, the president of the local NAACP chapter. Since Indiana doesn’t have hate crime laws, he’s contacted the U.S. Department of Justice. Gist said teenagers fight every day, but this was clearly different. “At this level, when they beat this boy left him for dead, what else would you call it?”

The Gardners said this all started months ago over a girl. Jason’s mother, La’Keysha, said she contacted the police multiple times.

“I don’t feel like my family is good enough to be served and protected anymore and I can’t tell you why that is. Why couldn’t this have been avoided? If my children are out here doing bad things, I’m almost absolutely sure that they’ll get in trouble for it, so why have we shown proof – not hearsay but proof – of what’s been going on threats against his life and nothing happened?”

New Haven Police Chief Henry McKinnon disputed all of Gardner’s claims and even said he would be willing to release police tapes after the investigation is over to show his department isn’t in the wrong. He was concerned about the department’s reputation when he said he knows his team well. When we told him people were calling them racist he said, “Absolutely not. One-hundred percent not.”

There was also talk about a rope and Gardner having rope burns around his neck. He said he felt like the boys were going to hang him. McKinnon said the rope has been at the creek for years and people use it to pull themselves up out of the creek.

McKinnon said the investigation is open and they’re close to one arrest and confident in the other two.

But for the Gardners it’s too little too late. “I think that the police isn’t doing their job,” Jason said.

Gardner said she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt.

“I want to spread the word that everybody has rights and we are all equal no matter what skin color we are we all deserve to be protected by the people who are paid to do it. There was such an outpouring of love and support from so many people. I am encouraging everybody, anybody who sees this story, to use peace as your weapon. Use peace and love as your weapon.”

McKinnon said he doesn’t want the public to think they are looking into this because of the social media attention. He said they have been working on arrests since the assault.

“We’re already prepared to to request charges from the prosecutor’s office, that hasn’t changed, we’re just gathering more information of that and we’re now looking at the other two.”

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NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WANE) – A woman was rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped inside her burning mobile home early Wednesday morning, according to fire officials.

New Haven Adams Township Fire/Rescue was called to Cedarwood Trails Manufactured Housing Community, 6008 Moeller Road Lot 171, around 2:15 a.m.

Fire crews had good information from 911 dispatchers about someone trapped in a bedroom and trying to break a window to get out. Firefighters arrived on scene and immediately went inside and found a woman, according to fire officials.

The woman was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Officials did not know her condition or extent of any possible injuries.

Crews were able to quickly get the fire under control despite high winds. Most of the home was saved, but officials didn’t have an estimate on damages. Visible fire and smoke damage could be seen around doors and windows on the outside of the home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but officials said it is not considered suspicious. No one else was home and no other injuries were reported.

Some pets were inside the mobile home but it’s unknown if they made it out safely.

It’s unclear if the home had working smoke detectors.

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