WAPAKONETA — Tapping arm and CNC machine manufacturer FlexArm/FlexCNC Inc. on Thursday unveiled its new corporate office and manufacturing plant, a 55,000-square-foot campus that mimics major corporations with an employee gym, table tennis and other amenities intended to lure young professionals to Wapakoneta.
The project started four years ago as President Nick Kennedy, who inherited the family-run business in 2013, desired to see FlexArm/FlexCNC grow.
“I decided we’re going to be a growth company,” Kennedy said.
The company, which makes tapping arms and large-bed CNC machines used by manufacturers around the world, claims more than 20,000 clients, including Boeing, Tesla, Apple, Whirlpool, the U.S. Department of Defense and local manufacturers.
It started in 1971 as a stamping facility, then known as Midwest Specialties, which produced water can brackets for Humvees and Jeeps. The company’s specialty changed when founder Richard Kennedy designed a tapping arm, originally intended to make the stamping plant more efficient, which birthed what is now FlexArm Inc. and FlexCNC.
The plant today specializes in ergonomics, producing machines like die grinding and torque reaction arms to make factories more efficient. And in 2017, FlexArm introduced a new division, FlexCNC, dedicated to producing computer numerical control (CNC) machines.
The expansion is expected to create 35 new jobs, eventually bringing the company’s staff to about 75 or 80 employees. And Kennedy hopes to eventually construct a 40,000-square-foot addition to the manufacturing plant, doubling the production area’s size.
The new facility was designed to imitate major corporate campuses like Google, with a workout space overlooking the production area, game tables in the corporate lobby and an employee cafeteria outfitted with flat-screen TVs and a coffee bar, with the purpose of attracting top talent in manufacturing, sales and marketing.
Greg Myers, executive director of the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council, said a company’s culture and physical environment can influence whether employees stay or go, an issue that is pertinent in northwest Ohio as the region struggles to retain young talent and find enough workers to fill job openings.
FlexArm/FlexCNC’s new campus is “providing a special niche for recruiting and retaining people in Wapakoneta,” Myers said. “That’s kind of exciting. It’s different. The culture at FlexArm is different than many companies. It’s small enough that they’re very team oriented. Those guys and gals working there are all pretty excited about what they’re doing.
“That’s always beneficial for their success and our community’s success. This is a homegrown company that has with Nick Kennedy at the helm taken a turn to create a special environment for success.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.