Lone wolves need not apply at Wolfpack Chassis LLC. According to a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the startup company in Kendallville, Ind., calls its workers “team members.”
“The most important thing I’m looking for is people who have a positive attitude, they’re willing to work as part of a team, and they can produce. Obviously, you’ve got to have the technical skills,” said Robert Frost, chief executive officer and president of Wolfpack Chassis. “You can train people to be chassis builders. You can’t always train a positive attitude where you can work with team members. On a (production) line there are 10 guys working who are synchronized, and they have to work together and support each other. If they don’t, they’re not going to fit in very well.”
Frost and his partner, Steve Hawk, employ a dozen people at Wolfpack Chassis. They plan for about 100 workers eventually, depending on demand for the frames the company fabricates to support recreational vehicles and manufactured housing, including mobile homes. The partners began production this year in a vacant industrial building they rented on the west side of Kendallville near Indiana 3.
The 53,000-square-foot plant is largely empty. It has two production lines, where workers cut, weld and paint steel beams, transforming them into chassis that can weigh from 2,000 pounds for an RV to 9,000 pounds for a mobile home. There is space in the factory for up to a dozen more lines.
“As we start ramping up and business picks up, then we’ll be hiring more,” Frost said. The jobs pay between $15 and $25 an hour.
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It’s one thing to build a chassis. But it’s quite another to build a chassis manufacturing company.
According to a report in the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal, entrepreneur wannabe Robert Frost knew how to do the former, but he wanted to do the latter. So Frost turned to business experts, including Elevate Ventures Inc., for advice.
The result: Kendallville-based Wolfpack Chassis LLC is launching a production line to manufacture chassis, the supporting frames for recreational vehicles and manufactured homes.
Frost, Wolfpack’s president and CEO, said the company might never have gotten off the ground without guidance – and greenbacks – from Elevate Ventures, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit.
“As a startup business, there are a lot of distractions that can cause you to lose sight of your target,” Frost said. “But our partnership with Elevate has allowed us to stay focused on doing what we do best, which is building quality chassis and adding value for customers.”
Created in 2011, Elevate Ventures manages $80 million for the state, including more than $34 million in federal funds received under the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
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A startup chassis manufacturing operation is asking Kendallville, Ind., officials for tax breaks on a $1.9 million investment projected to create 100 jobs in its first year.
As reported by the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Robert Frost, president and CEO of Wolfpack Chassis LLC, said the company will build chassis – or the supporting frames – for recreational vehicles and manufactured homes. The product line will include chassis with slideout mechanisms.
“Our goal is to provide customers high-quality chassis at competitive prices, combined with unmatched delivery and customer service,” Frost said.
The business plan includes eventually moving into making chassis for cars, trucks and buses. The investors, who include seven silent partners, expect to invest more than $3 million in the operation over the next five years.
Frost, who lives in LaGrange, formed the company with one partner a year ago.
The company had been considering various locations in northern Indiana and southern Michigan before choosing the former Reliable Production Machining and Welding building in Kendallville.
“This building was really an ideal setup for what we wanted to do,” Frost said. City and county officials “put together a very attractive incentive package.”
Wolfpack is creating incentives of its own for workers. Employees would earn $22 an hour, on average, for jobs including engineering, welding and other skilled trades.
Hiring is expected to begin the last week of November.
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