Roger Sustar has experienced some good and bad in the short time since his Fredon Corp. staff relocated to 8990 Tyler Blvd.
Shortly after beginning the transition from Enterprise Drive, his new headquarters suffered a cracked floor from trying to move in a 42,000-pound horizontal milling machine on a 50,000 pound tow motor. Just weeks after he began incorporating offices into the new building, rain seeped inside as Superstorm Sandy hit Northeast Ohio.
All of that accompanied Sustar's wife declaring him "freaking nuts" for taking on — and paying for — such an expansive project.
He didn't exactly disagree with her, but the entrepreneur would have it no other way.
"This is unbelievable," he said. "This is a huge endeavor … we're having one hell of a time."
The new location is about 70,000 square feet, but Fredon excavated the back area, making room for another 30,000 square feet if another expansion is needed. The previous location on Enterprise Drive was 40,000 square feet. Sustar is still searching for a buyer of that property.
Fredon first bid on its new building about two years ago, but lost out to Richard Osborne Sr. The two sides eventually struck a deal. Sustar also bought the property that sits in front of the building and fixed up the lengthy driveway and the retention pond.
In all, the lot is about 11 acres.
Fredon makes for the likes of Safran and Honeywell, but the company now has a lot more space to do it in. The machine shop contains rows of machines that weigh as much as the one that cracked his floor. However, they don't seem that large in the Fredon shop.
Asked how much he spent altogether on the project, Sustar replied, "I have no idea. I don't wanna know." However, he said he spent about $600,000 on new machines alone and thousands for the high-rise windows that help illuminate the shop.
Aside from an "I'm gonna be broke" joke, Sustar doesn't seem too stressed about the costs. The increased space entails an increased amount of contracts and clients. Fredon shipped $1.5 million worth of products in October alone, he said.
But the new, massive space isn't all about increasing Fredon's sales. It will also give Sustar ample room to allow students to create and practice using their "RoboBots" before the annual competition his company helped create to provide guidance future manufacturers. In April, the event featured 24 teams comprised of students from all over the region that were sponsored by Mentor manufacturers like U.S. Endoscopy, Libra Industries and Roll-Kraft. Sustar expects 30 teams next year.
Fredon's new headquarters also houses the Alliance for Working Together, the group that presents RoboBots and creates programs to excite students about manufacturing. Last year, the group arranged for 1,500 area 7th and 8th graders to take tours Northeast Ohio manufacturers throughout the school year.
"That's the kind of things we're doing," Sustar said. "We don't get anything for this except, the way I look at it, the more kids we have to get involved with this, the more there is in the workforce and the less we have to beat each other up to get something."
Sustar doesn't expect the new Fredon to look the way he wants it to until next May. Among the projects to go are office-space enhancements and a shop mezzanine.
"We made it this far," Sustar said. "We'll keep going."
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