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Patriot Porcelain: Bringing Jobs Back to a Vacant Plant


In 2007, a Globe Union Group porcelain products factory in Kokomo, Indiana was shut down as its production was off-shored to China. At the time, the cost of manufacturing a toilet in the U.S. was roughly twice the cost of doing so in China.

Six years later, thanks to improved automated-production technology here and rising labor costs in China, making the products in the U.S. is once again price-competitive. A new company, Patriot Porcelain, in October 2013 announced plans to reopen the facility in 2014 and create 140 production, management, and engineering jobs. That is great news for a city that had seen several plant closures in recent years.

Patriot is investing $16 million to modernize the plant with 10 new presses, more than a dozen robots, and new conveyer belts. Injection molding will replace the old practice of hand-filled molding. The 330,000 square foot plant will ultimately operate continuously on a seven-day, three-shift schedule, and will produce up to 425,000 pieces porcelain toilets and sinks per year.

In order to secure financing needed for the new equipment, Patriot negotiated five-year contracts to supply a pair of wholesalers, Gerber Plumbing Fixtures and Niagra Faucets. Eager to see the plant be modernized and reopened, the State of Indiana and the City of Kokomo also provided incentives. The distributors, Gerber and Niagra, will benefit as well, as the modernized plant will supply them with products faster, thereby shortening delivery-time cycles.

The Patriot Porcelain example is a Great Manufacturing Story that reshoring advocates hope to see play out across the U.S. repeatedly in the coming years.