ELKHART – It was less than two years ago when a Norwegian company opened a new electric car plant in Elkhart with the promise of more than 400 jobs.
In January 2010, ‘Think’ North America held a grand opening and planned to spend more than $50 million with the help of a tax abatement from the city and started making electric cars there.
But the company went bankrupt last year, and production there ground to a halt.
As ‘Think’ shrinks, another company is taking over the plant.
Earlier this month, Kem Krest Corporation, based in Elkhart, bought the building on Magnum Drive. Kem Krest plans to invest over $4 million in a new corporate headquarters and warehouse, which takes in more than 200,000 square feet.
Kem Krest will relocate and expand its warehouse operation from Toledo Road. The company stocks supplies for the automotive, ag industrial and defense industries.
“Since roughly 2005, our company has doubled in size,” said Kem Krest President Amish Shah. “Moving into this building gives us the expansion capabilities that we need, gives us the flexibility to grow, and it really gives us the opportunity to get some new market that we are pursuing.”
If all goes according to plan, Kem Krest could be in full gear at the new location in a couple of months.
“We are looking for a full transition here by March of 2013,” Shah projected. “That means all staff, this warehouse, believe it or not, will be completely packed by March. We’ll be operating all of our programs here.”
In the past couple of years, the company has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in its product line and needs space like this to accommodate that. The building purchase cements their base there.
“This is really a sign that we’re here to stay, and we feel good about our business, our industry and our economy,” Shah said.
Construction crews are already making the needed renovations. At the same time, the few remaining ‘Think’ cars, parts and inventory inside are being moved to another site in Elkhart for storage.
A spokesperson for ‘Think’ North America tells WSBT the company is consolidating its worldwide parts inventory and will still continue to provide parts and services to customers.
They said the company is actively working to secure a partner to help ensure the long-term viability of the company and is committed to building on the ‘Think’ legacy.