Upton tours Delta Industrial

Published 4:14 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keith Stelter, president of Delta Industrial Valves in Niles, shows off his facility’s machinery to Congressman Fred Upton Wednesday.

While many manufacturers are struggling to get by or even closing up shop, Delta Industrial Valves Inc. in Niles has found a way to not only survive but thrive in the down economy.

Delta Industrial, which manufactures and supplies valves for oil refineries, has tripled its work force in the past five years, according to president and co-owner Keith Stelter. The manufacturer has 62 employees and plans to add 10 more over the next year.

“We’ve actually grown through the recession,” Stelter told Congressman Fred Upton during his visit to the facility in the Niles Industrial Park Wednesday.

Upton, R-St. Joseph, toured the facility and told workers he sees positive trends in manufacturing, citing his visit earlier this month to American Axle in Three Rivers. The manufacturer is undergoing a $100 million expansion project expected to add 600 jobs.

Stelter agrees and said Delta Industrial and several other local manufacturers are struggling to find enough qualified workers to fill positions.

“We’d have another 10 to 15 guys on the floor if we could find them,” Stelter said.

Upton said he has visited a number of businesses that are beginning to “gear up the hiring again.” But one major potential hang-up to economic growth, according to Upton, is gas prices.

Upton took the opportunity to again tout the Keystone pipeline — a project he argues would lower oil prices.

“For many of us, it’s a no-brainer,” Upton said.

The Keystone project calls for a 1,700-mile expansion of an existing energy pipeline that would transport 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to Texas. Upton, a leading supporter of the project, said he is working on drumming up enough support in the Senate to pass the legislation.

Stelter said he supports Keystone, as he believes the project would add to his business and the country’s economy.

Delta supplies valves to clients in six continents and anticipates doubling its production in the next two to three years.