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Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Roofing maker setting up shop

Mercer County OKs $600,000 revolving loan for $1.9 million project

By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - A longtime dream is about to become reality for an area man as he turns his unique metal roofing invention into a $1.9 million manufacturing plant in St. Henry.
The company, Blosser Stephens, plans to begin production by the first of the year at the former Gerlach Machine & Tool building along state Route 118 on the north edge of town. Blosser Stephens is a new division of Diamondbeck Inc., a housing construction business based in Greenville.
The company is owned by inventor James Stephens of Sidney and business co-owner Gaylen Blosser of Greenville. The pair, both retirees from the housing industry, this week were awarded a $600,000 revolving loan by the Mercer County Community Development office. The money is earmarked for the purchase of equipment and for use as working capital.
The company's revolving loan is the second-largest one distributed by the county and boosts the total amount of loans issued by the community development office to more than $10 million, according to Community Development Director Larry Stelzer.
Terms of the 4 percent revolving loan include the repayment of $455,000 in 10 years and $145,000 in five years. The business, which also is seeking funds through a private lender and a state loan, must create 33 new, full-time jobs in the first three years - a stipulation the owners are more than comfortable with.
"We believe we won't have a problem surpassing that," Stephens said.
The plant manager is Bob Parzale of Sidney, a longtime friend of Stephens. Production will begin with about a half dozen employees at first, Stephens said.
Skilled and non-skilled labor will be hired for a variety of "well-paid" positions, Blosser said.
"We've done our research ... and our wages will be competitive," he added.
Stephens has a patent pending for his product, which is a combination of 22-by-33-inch metal shingles and a special sealant that has been proven to withstand winds of more than 240 miles per hour, he said. Average hurricane winds are 100 to 150 miles per hour.
"The last independent lab testing we did was about two or three weeks ago," Stephens said. "It (the metal shingle) still didn't blow away; one of the ends just started to raise a bit."
The sealant is the company's trade secret. Blosser said one "key component" in the mix is a 3M product, although the men would not reveal details. The sealant is strong against UV rays and contracts and expands as weather dictates. The design has a lifetime guarantee.
Stephens said he toyed with his invention for nearly 30 years, waiting for the technology to catch up.
"The concept turned out better than I thought," he said.
Stephens and Blosser say their product has been deemed "green." It is environmentally friendly because it is 100 percent recyclable, unlike asphalt shingles.
"About 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles go into the landfill each year," Blosser said.
They say the shingles are much lighter and more compact then asphalt shingles, making them easier and more economical for contractors to transport and quicker to apply to homes or commercial buildings.
Blosser and Stephens credit Stelzer and St. Henry Village Administrator Don Hess with helping them get started. Blosser said his longtime friend Wesley Jetter, general manager of Fort Recovery Industries, also was instrumental by putting them in touch with people who believed in their dream.
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