Byron Jenkins was working part time at a Canton McDonald’s and full time at another local restaurant when he saw an advertisement for manufacturing jobs at Suarez Corporation Industries.
Jenkins had worked in manufacturing off and on since graduating from McKinley Senior High School in 2000. Ultimately, he was laid off from those better-paying jobs and relegated to doing minimum-wage work as a way to support his daughter.
But now Suarez was bringing jobs to the former Hoover factory in North Canton in order to build EdenPure space heaters. These jobs, which now total about 125 but may ultimately grow to 300, were also coming to Northeast Ohio from China.
Jenkins applied. Now, after about seven months with Suarez, Jenkins is a floor hand. For 10 hours a day, four days a week, he moves boxed space heaters to the warehouse, brings supplies to the workers on the line and keeps the factory floor clean.
“It’s fantastic,” he says. “Most jobs, you just sit there, work and go home. Here, I’m always on the move, always active. ... You’ve accomplished something once [the workday’s] over.”
, operations manager at Suarez, says the company started talking about moving jobs from China to North Canton in 2008.
By 2010, the company was making upward of 2,000 units a week with up to 30 full-time employees. Then the winter cold hit and the space heaters would sell out. Instead of placing new orders with the company’s manufacturer in China, they decided to ramp up production in North Canton.
“The quality was really there,” Paolini says. “Our returns were way less than China, and our pricing was competitive. We added a lot of jobs and really brought it full-circle by bringing manufacturing back to America.”
Manufacturing is something new for Suarez. The company had never produced anything before the space heaters. Suarez Corporation Industries is a marketing company that buys inventions, figures out ways to market them and then finds someone to build them.
Company owner Benjamin Suarez saw a void in North Canton’s empty Hoover Building. That, Paolini says, is what drove him to start manufacturing.
Now the company has plans to start making more things in North Canton. It’s adding a 1,000-watt space heater to the 1,500-watt one it currently builds. There are also plans to start building a water softener-type product called Scalerid, a piece of exercise equipment, an air purifier and ceiling fans that heat and cool rooms.
“I hope someday we can have 600 people in this building. That is my dream,” Paolini says. But for Suarez, that’s small thinking.
Suarez hopes to bring thousands of manufacturing jobs to the North Canton facility, Paolini says.
On top of the jobs added by the company, Paolini estimates that 125 to 150 jobs have been added by local suppliers.
Progressive Machine Die in Macedonia added jobs. Electra Cord in Massillon supplies the power cords for the heaters, and they added jobs. Beckett Air brought an entire manufacturing line of blowers from Sweden to North Ridgeville to be closer to Suarez. It’s the first time these blowers have ever been manufactured in the United States.
Paolini says she is buoyed by the fact her company is helping the North Canton community and workers such as Jenkins.
A little boy, no more than 4 years old, visited the factory with his dad one day. He ran to Paolini and hugged her leg.
“Thank you for giving my daddy a job,” he said.
“I don’t care how hard a day gets,” Paolini says. “You go back to those moments when you can not only hire someone, but give someone a raise, and they get tears in their eyes.”