Week of September 2, 2002
  Project Watch
Springfield, Ohio
After beginning in Springfield with a five-employee center in 1995, Assurant has moved into a new three-facility campus (pictured) where, with 600 employees, it ranks as the city's largest private-sector employer.
Assurant Group's 800-Job Expansion
Under Way in West Ohio

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Insurance-industry player Assurant Group has begun making good on a very big promise: adding almost 800 jobs in Springfield, Ohio.
        The company, which provides lender-placed hazard insurance and outsourcing services, has just opened its new $20-million campus on Springfield's southern edge. Located on a 26-acre (10.5-hectare) site, the new campus replaces Assurant's former hazard insurance processing center in downtown, which had grown to the bursting point.
        Located near I-70, the new site accommodates the company's rapid West Ohio growth with the bricks-and-mortar equivalent of an exclamation point: Spanning 150,000 sq. ft. (13,935 sq. m.) in three separate buildings, the new insurance tracking center is the largest mortgage services outsourcing complex in the United States, Assurant officials said.
        "We like to say we embrace change, and change is all about growth," Assurant President Bruce Camacho said at the new facility's dedication ceremonies. "Here you see the reality - change leading to growth in our business, growth in jobs, opportunities for our associates and increased prosperity for this community."
Assurant President Bruce Camacho
"We back up our words with actions, and we deliver on our promises," Assurant President Bruce Camacho (pictured) said of the company's projections for 1,200 employees at its Springfield center.

        The newly enlarged center is already handling more work for its high-profile corporate clientele, which includes Cendant, Firstar, M&T Mortgage, National City, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and World Savings Bank. The Springfield complex currently provides insurance tracking and escrow disbursement services for a portfolio of some 6.8 million residential mortgages, company officials reported. The operation annually processes more than 12 million pieces of mail, handles some 480,000 telephone calls and makes more than $3 billion in insurance premium payments from borrower escrow accounts.
        Now, with the new complex fully in place, the Springfield center will further expand its considerable business reach, Camacho said.
        "The completion of this new facility, with its state-of-art technology, enables us to move forward with plans to take on more clients, increase the portfolio of mortgages that we service here and offer more technology-based products and services," he explained.

1,200 Jobs Still Projected; 'We Deliver
On Our Promises,' President Says
With the opening of its new campus, Assurant has added 170 new employees at its processing center. That brings total employment to 600 at the Springfield operation, which sits some 81 miles (130.4 kilometers) northeast of Cincinnati.
        The center, however, has a ways to go to reach 1,200 employees. That 1,200 figure represents the total number of employees that the company projected "within two to three years" of its announcement of the Springfield expansion, which went public almost exactly a year ago.
        But the other 600 projected jobs, Camacho indicated, are still on tap for the Ohio city of some 66,000 residents.
        "We've started to make good on that pledge by creating more than 170 new jobs over the past 12 months," he said. "We value our ability to execute with urgency and act with integrity. We back up our words with actions, and we deliver on our promises."

From 1995's Five Employees to
City's Largest Private-Sector Employer
The company's robust local track record would certainly seem to augur well for delivering growth. American Security Group, Assurant's corporate predecessor, set up its Springfield center in 1995 with only five employees. Since that time, Assurant has grown so fast that it now ranks as the city's largest private-sector employer.
        Assurant also has a large and potent parent behind it. The company is part of international financial services provider Fortis, No. 26 on the Fortune Global 500 and No. 33 on the Forbes World Super 50. Assurant has signed on for the long term at its new Ohio site. The company has inked a 15-year lease, with an option to renew, with Springfield Group LLC, which developed and owns the new campus.
        Company officials expressed appreciation for the expansion assistance provided by the state and local officials (including Gov. Bob Taft) who gathered at the new facility's dedication. Assurant received some $1.7 million in state and local grants and incentives to support the move to its larger operation. Michael Lawson, manager of Assurant's Springfield center, singled out Springfield City Manager Matt Kridler and city Economic Development Administrator Tom Franzen for special thanks.
        "It was their support, aid and guidance that ensured that Springfield, Ohio, was the only choice for our new campus," Lawson said.
        Assurant, which has dual headquarters in Atlanta and Miami, has 5,500 employees in its worldwide work force. In addition to the USA, the company has operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.
        In addition to its Springfield operation, Assurant has other U.S. hazard insurance processing centers in Duluth, Ga.; Florence, S.C.; and Orange, Calif.

Ducati Superbike
Vroom with a view: Ducati's U.S. sales have been boosted by the popularity of its new top-of-the-line "Superbike" model (pictured above).
Ducati Gets Its Motor Runnin', Readies to Relocate U.S. HQ
in California

BOLOGNA, Italy and POMPTON PLAINS, N.J. – "Born to Be Wild," that grind-it-out biker anthem immortalized by 1960s' rockers Steppenwolf, has become "Born to Be Based in California" - at least for the North American arm of Ducati Motor Holding.
        The Bologna, Italy-based manufacturer of high-performance motorcycles is relocating the entire headquarters operation of its North American subsidiary to an as-yet-undisclosed site in California's Silicon Valley. Ducati North America's relocation, which will involve some 60 employees now based in Pompton Plains, N.J., will take place in early 2003, company officials said.
        That westward migration is a major element in the company's new business strategy, Ducati officials explained. The North American market has become a major priority for Ducati; the continent now accounts for roughly a fourth of the company's total global revenues. And California is Ducati's largest American market, providing some 20 percent of the company's U.S. retail sales.
        "Our move to California is a key strategic move towards creating a structure that will be able to unleash the huge potential for Ducati of the U.S. market," said Ducati North America CEO Joseph Piazza. "We currently have a number of products that are proving to be a great success in California and beyond."

California's Chopper Cluster Helped Drive Move
California's clout in the U.S. bike business was also a major draw, Ducati officials said. The Golden State's chopper cluster includes a number of headquarters operations, among them the world headquarters for Indian Motorcycle and the U.S. headquarters for Kawasaki Motorcycle. The state's high profile in the biker universe will reposition Ducati's North American base in a labor pool rich in specialized skills, company officials said. The Silicon Valley location, they added, will also facilitate closer contact between the company and industry leaders, as well as closer proximity to major tracks for brand-building events and dealer training.
        The move to California comes amid Ducati's efforts to revamp its North American operations, explained Carlo Di Biagio, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding.
        "The relocation is part of a program aimed at reorganizing operations in North America," Di Biagio said. "Ducati is currently streamlining its U.S.-based business by outsourcing the management of spare parts and the distribution of motorcycles, based on the proven success of the company's business model."
        Ducati Motor Holding employs some 950 employees worldwide. Last year, the company's total revenues of $363.5 million marked a 6 percent increase over its 2000 tally. Texas Pacific Group and Deutsche Morgan Grenfell Capital Italy own more than 30 percent of Ducati.

Great Falls hydroelectric dam
Located on the Catawba River, Great Falls is home to one of the oldest U.S. hydroelectric dams (pictured) and is also the city in which Duke Energy Corp. was created.
100-Employee South Carolina Center
Will More Than Double Paper
Converter's Total Work Force

Few are the firms that ever double total employment with a single new facility. Such is the case, though, with Morcon. The small New York-based paper converter is rapidly creating its largest employee cluster in the Palmetto State. The family-owned company has just announced that it will open a 100-employee paper conversion center in Great Falls, a city of some 2,200 residents in South Carolina's north-central region. The Great Falls facility will convert bulk paper into products that are used in a wide range of industries.
        The facility will employ 75 workers when it opens late this year, company officials explained. Cambridge, N.Y.-based Morcon, they added, will add another 25 employees over the next five years at its site in Great Falls, which is part of the Charlotte, N.C., metro.
        The 75 employees who will be in place when the new center opens will match Morcon's total current employment.

New Operation Will Focus on U.S. Southeast
Founded in 1987, the company has concentrated its paper-conversion business on the U.S. East Coast market, providing products made from converted bulk paper for the retail, food-service, institutional, janitorial, sanitation and health-care markets. Located near I-77, the new operation in South Carolina is designed to capitalize on the U.S. Southeast market, a major growth engine for Morcon, explained Wayne Morris, the company's CEO and president.
        "The Great Falls facility, which will service our food-service, janitorial and sanitation markets in the Southeast, has amazing growth potential for Morcon and the community of Great Falls," Morris said. "We look forward to expanding our paper converting operation in the town of Great Falls."
        "South Carolina's economic well-being depends on good, quality companies like Morcon selecting our state to create jobs and invest capital," Gov. Jim Hodges said in welcoming the company's announcement. "It doesn't hurt," Hodges added, "that Morcon also uses recyclable materials that will preserve our state's natural resources."
        Morcon recorded total revenues of more than $12 million last year, according to company officials.


©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.