PIQUA — Almost two years after Orr Felt closed, a possible buyer for its building is coming forward and seeking assistance from the state with the potential goal of rebooting operations at the site.
An Italian company is considering the purchase of the building and opening a production line at the site. A limited liability company (LLC) for U.S. operations for a company called For-Tech was established for the site, according to a posting at the building.
The sale of the building is pending possible assistance of Jobs Ohio and from the city of Piqua, according to City of Piqua Economic Development Director Justin Sommer.
“They are in the same line of business that Orr Felt was,” Sommer said.
Orr Felt was part of the textile industry and produced papermaker’s felt.
If the company opens a production line at the facility, they are considering adding 20 to 25 employees to the operations. That was around the amount of employees that Orr Felt had when they closed.
While the negotiations are still ongoing, a new sign was posted to the building this week indicating that a LLC with the name For-Tech has been established for U.S. operations for the Italian company. The building has not yet been purchased, though.
“All of the machinery that Orr Felt was using is still inside that building,” Sommer said.
The purchase is contingent on assistance from Jobs Ohio and the city.
“It’s an old building, and it needs some work,” Sommer said.
The city is helping to facilitate discussions between the possible buyer and Jobs Ohio. The city also has a small business loan available depending on the possible buyer’s need.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Sommer said. He said that it is still early in the negotiations, but the city is excited about where this possible purchase could lead.
“We’re excited that the building has opportunity for new life,” Sommer said.
Orr Felt closed in June 2016, and its history goes back to 1848, when Young and Yeager Textiles in Piqua, one of the first textile companies in the Midwest, began producing woolen fabrics, fleeces, and coarse materials.
In 1901, A.M. Orr and his father, Colonel W.P. Orr bought the company and reorganized it as the Orr Felt Company, manufacturing blankets, and papermaker’s felt.
The 1913 flood caused extensive damage to the plant and equipment. After repairs were completed, the plant was scheduled to reopen. The day before reopening, the plant was destroyed by fire. Following rebuilding, the company discontinued the manufacture of worsteds, a type of wool yarn.
The company maintained slow, steady growth during the Depression.
During World War II, the Orr Felt Company produced about 250,000 blankets for the Army and Navy, plus olive drab woolen lining, which was used in military sleeping bags.
In 1964, under new owner Dimitri P. Nicholas, the company reorganized and replaced old machinery with modern production equipment. In 1990, Nicholas sold the company to his family. After that, his son Dimitri M. Nicholas was the president and retained sole ownership of the company until its closing.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336