Johnson Controls is investing more than $75 million in distribution center

Johnson Controls, Inc., the world’s largest supplier of automotive batteries, today broke ground on a new 400,000 square-foot distribution center in Middletown, Del. The company is investing more than $75 million in the facility, which will perform the charging, packaging and distribution of automotive batteries for the Northeast region of the United States.

The groundbreaking was attended by Governor Jack Markell, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, U.S Senator Chris Coons, Delaware Economic Development Office Secretary Alan Levin, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner and Johnson Controls Vice President and General Manager for the U.S. and Canada Kevin Pasqua and Middletown Plant Manager Rick Thompson. Several other company leaders and state officials joined the celebration.

“Johnson Controls could have relocated elsewhere but decided to stay in Middletown and expand in Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell. “It’s great to see a business here succeed and be confident that expanding its work will lead to even greater success. This project puts Delawareans to work producing and distributing products for the region. As Johnson Controls moves forward with its expansion, Delaware’s job market moves forward as well.”

The building, located in the Westown Business Park at 50 Patriot Drive, is set for completion in August. It will have a capacity of 8.5 million units per year with the capability of expanding to 14 million units. It will employ up to 225 employees at full capacity and the company will begin transitioning production to the facility throughout September and October.

“It is my pleasure to celebrate the history and future of Johnson Controls in Delaware,” said Secretary Levin. “I am proud that companies like Johnson Controls continue to recognize the value of our uniquely friendly business environment, strategic location and talented workforce. I would like to thank the leaders of Johnson Controls for choosing to expand in the First State.”

Currently, Johnson Controls manufactures the complete battery at its existing Middletown facility. With the new distribution center the process will be divided between the two plants. The battery core will be manufactured at the company’s existing plant, and then sent to the new distribution center as a dry battery. At the distribution center, the batteries will be filled with electrolyte, charged, tested and packaged for shipping.

“This new distribution center is critical in keeping our commitment to our customers to provide the best product availability, outstanding service and quality,” said Kevin Pasqua, vice president and general manager of the U.S. and Canada for Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “By building our new distribution center here in Middletown, we’re not only keeping existing jobs in the area, we are also adding new jobs and allowing for future growth and expansion.”

State and local officials have been instrumental in Johnson Controls’ decision to build this Distribution Center in Middletown. In February, DEDO awarded the company $2.06 million from the Delaware Strategic Fund to assist with construction of the facility and to purchase new equipment. An additional $384,968 performance-based grant was awarded for jobs created and retained in Delaware.

Johnson Controls also received a real estate tax abatement from the town of Middletown for the next 10 years.

“Although we had to go through some truly groundbreaking negotiations on our part to help make this happen in this challenging economy, we also saw the chance to boost the Middletown economy and bring big jobs to the area – truly a “win-win” situation, as we stand here on the chosen site, in the Town limits of the Town of Middletown,” said Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner.

In addition to its automotive battery operations, Johnson Controls’ Building Efficiency Business, which is the global leader in delivering products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings, has been servicing the region for more than 50 years out of Salisbury, Md., and Malvern Pa.

“Johnson Controls is enhancing our ability to support the distribution needs of our existing customers in the Northeast,” said Rick Thompson, Middletown plant manager. “We’re also implementing state-of-the-art technology in the new facility by using our proprietary water bath formation. This process is up to 3 percent more energy efficient than cooled formation. It supports our company’s commitment to sustainability, continuous innovation and industry leadership.”

Additional quotes:

U.S. Senator Tom Carper: "Johnson Controls is a shining example of how great things can happen when government and the business community work together. I am thrilled that this new facility will bring over 60 new jobs to Middletown during a time when we really needed them."

U.S. Senator Chris Coons: “It’s businesses like Johnson Controls that are reinforcing the mantra, ‘Made in America, Manufactured in Delaware. Job retention and job creation are key to our economic recovery, and this groundbreaking is a shot in the arm for Middletown and all of Delaware. I commend Johnson Controls for its commitment to the First State.”

U.S. Representative John Carney: “My congratulations go to everyone who worked to make this project a reality. The partnership between Johnson Controls, DEDO, and the town of Middletown shows just how important it is that government creates an environment where businesses can grow. We need to make things in America again. My job in Congress is to help Delaware and the U.S. expand manufacturing opportunities that will create jobs and allow us to compete in the global economy. Johnson Controls has long been a leading manufacturer of automotive batteries, and I’m confident that their continued success will result in more jobs for Delawareans and a stronger state economy.”

The Delaware Economic Development Office is an executive state agency responsible for attracting new investors and businesses to the state, promoting the expansion of existing industry, assisting small and minority-owned businesses, promoting and developing tourism and creating new and improved employment opportunities for all citizens of the State.

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. Our 142,000 employees create quality products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for automobiles. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. Through our growth strategies and by increasing market share we are committed to delivering value to shareholders and making our customers successful. In 2011, Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognized Johnson Controls as the #1 company in its annual “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list.

Johnson Controls Power Solutions is the global leader in lead-acid starter batteries, advanced lead-acid batteries for Start-Stop vehicles and Lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. Our 35 manufacturing facilities supply more than one third of the world’s lead-acid batteries to major auto makers and aftermarket retailers. Through our innovations we are building the advanced battery industry for hybrid and electric vehicles. Our joint venture, Johnson Controls-Saft, is the first company in the world to produce lithium-ion batteries for mass production hybrid vehicles. Our commitment to sustainability is evidenced by our world-class technology, manufacturing and recycling capabilities.