HK Technologies moving from Leetonia to Salem-area site

EAST LIVERPOOL — HK Technologies is moving from its Leetonia facility to the former RAG Tool building on state Route 45 just north of Salem.

Columbiana County Port Authority executive director Penny Traina announced the move at Monday’s meeting, saying HK had outgrown the space it has been leasing from them for the past 21 years.

“It’s our mission to assist local companies in growth, and while it is bittersweet to see HK Technologies relocate, it is the purpose of the (Leetonia) building and a sign that the port authority is doing its job,” she said in a news release.

HK manufactures production and laboratory sized vibrating sieves, sifters and screens for fine particles in various commercial and industrial uses. Customers include GE, Rolls Royce, Honeywell, Boeing and SpaceX, among others, according to company president Jeff Hochadel.

HK started in 1996 at the industrial building on Cherry Fork in Leetonia after it was purchased by the port authority, becoming one of the original tenants, with the other being Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America. Hochadel said they started out leasing 2,000 square feet and grew to 12,000 square feet currently but now they need more space.

At 16,000 square feet, the RAG Tool building gives HK the room it needs to continue expanding. It is also a newer building compared to the Cherry Fork facility, which is about 100 years old, and the original wood flooring was hard to keep clean. “I need a pretty clean assembly area,” Hochadel explained.

There is an adjoining 10,000-square-foot building HK also intends to purchase.

The company started with two employees and currently has 10, and Hochadel expects to add another two positions this year.

The only drawback is the RAG building is located about 200 yards over the county line in Mahoning County.

“That’s the only thing that was kind of holding me back about moving out there,” Hochadel said. “I wanted to stay in the county but there was not really anything that fit our needs perfectly in the northern part of the county.”

Hochadel does not believe he would be in business if it were not for the efforts of Tracy Drake, the former port authority executive director, who he said was instrumental in helping him find a location for HK and secure the necessary financing to get started.

“A lot of initial success was due to Tracy Drake,” he said. “Without his help it would’ve been difficult.”

Traina said they now have 12,000 square feet of industrial space available for lease at the Cherry Fork location, which includes two cranes and office space. She noted the building has undergone a number of improvements in 2017, including a new roof.

“We’re hoping we can get that leased as quickly as possible,” she said.