Flex-N-Gate to double size of Danville plant, add 100 workers

Flex-N-Gate to double size of Danville plant, add 100 workers

DANVILLE — Auto parts maker Flex-N-Gate plans to double the size of its plastics plant in Danville, adding at least 100 employees.

The company owned by billionaire Shahid Khan will receive $1.2 million in state tax incentives to keep the roughly $20 million project in Illinois.

Flex-N-Gate, which has 118 employees at its existing 60,000-square-foot plant on Lynch Road, plans to add another 60,000 square feet, according to Bill Beistline, the company's vice president of global procurement.

With the new space, they'll be making "functional plastic parts," Beistline said. "This is specifically related to programs won from Toyota and Ford."

Flex-N-Gate was considering putting the new work elsewhere, including in Veedersburg, Ind.

"We had the ability to put the business anywhere. We have a building in Kentucky; we have manufacturing plants in Michigan and Indiana. Mr. Khan has a soft spot for Illinois," Beistline said. "I think he's very excited about the fact that we could focus this project in his backyard."

Khan immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1967 to attend the University of Illinois. After graduating with an engineering degree, he developed a truck bumper that caught on, and in 1980, he bought Flex-N-Gate, his former employer and now one of the largest private companies in the country.

Once the work in Danville is completed and the jobs are created, Flex-N-Gate will receive the $1.2 million credit toward its tax liability as part of the state's Edge program, which encourages companies to add jobs in Illinois.

This Edge agreement was signed earlier this month.

The goal of the Edge program is "to keep businesses here or attract businesses not in Illinois to invest in Illinois," said Jacquelyn Reineke, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

Flex-N-Gate also reached an Edge incentive agreement worth $3.7 million last year to open a plant on the South Side of Chicago, generating nearly 300 jobs there over three years.

That facility is expected to open in early 2019.

For the Danville project, Flex-N-Gate has hired Mattoon-based Curry Construction as its general contractor, and construction should begin within the next 30 to 60 days, Beistline said.

The new injection molding machines should be installed and ready to go by next September, he said.

Most of the new jobs will be plastics operators and assembly operators, according to the company's agreement with the state.

"It's a mix," Beistline said. "Certainly direct labor on the injection molding machines and on assembly, putting rivets on the plastic. Certainly some indirect people: material handling, forklift drivers. And we're expanding the offices, so I'd expect some office professional people to be joining the company as well."

Flex-N-Gate parts are in two-thirds of all cars and trucks sold in the United States, according to a 2012 "60 Minutes" interview, and the company now has some 13,000 employees with annual revenue estimated at $6 billion, according to Forbes.

Khan's net worth is estimated at $7.2 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 217th-richest person on the planet.