Lyle Fogerty, plant manager of Bil-Jax, told Archbold Village Council he was a fan of rerouting St. Rts. 66 and 2 along what is presently Co. Rd. 24.
But Terry Henricks, owner of Terry Henricks Chrysler Dodge-Jeep-Ram, and Brad Grime, owner of Auto Images, are both opposed to the proposal.
All three spoke during the Monday, May 2 council meeting.
Fogerty and Henricks spoke after a crowd of about 40 people opposed to the project left council chambers.
Grime spoke both during and after the group left.
Fogerty told council Bil- Jax is currently routing semi trucks onto Co. Rd. 24.
“We can’t get them through St. Rt. 66,” he said.
“They get stuck downtown and can’t figure out how to get” to the Bil-Jax facility.
But Grime asked, “How much easier does it have to get?”
St. Rt. 66 (Defiance Street) is a straight shot through the village. There are two entrances to the Archbold Industrial Park, and both are specifically designed for trucks.
Grime said three to four trucks a day use his business parking lot to turn around after driving past Arrow Tru-Line.
At times, truck drivers try to drive across the lawn from his business to Arrow Tru-Line.
Fogerty said as Bil-Jax business has expanded, it has moved to bigger trucking companies. Those companies are sending new drivers to Bil-Jax.
“And half of them don’t speak English,” said Kevin Eicher, a councilman.
Jeff Fryman, mayor, said Bil-Jax has received surcharges on its freight bills because the facility is hard for drivers to get in and out.
Fogerty said in some cases, companies will refuse to provide services to Bil-Jax.
Fogerty said Bil-Jax currently employs 250 people. It is looking to add another 100, he said.
There are about 2,000 trucks a year with outbound loads; that number does not count trucks coming to the plant.
He said in 2015, the company had sales of $50 million; it looks to surpass that in 2016.
“I want to be part of a $150 million company,” he said.
Speaking while the crowd was still in attendance, Grime said he built his business specifically on St. Rt. 66.
“Location is everything,” he said. “Bring the traffic on. I love it.”
His shop employs 15 people and pays millions of dollars in sales taxes.
He said he had heard about studies being done on the proposed realignment, “but I have yet to be contacted.”
“My heart also goes out to the Co. Rd. 24 residents. They have a right to their peace and quiet,” he said.
The Terry Henricks automotive dealership is located on South Defiance Street (St. Rt. 66).
Henricks told council that in April, 61% of his business was generated from drive-in traffic– people who drove to the business. Other months, the figure was as low as 43%.
He said in 2015, the dealership sold 850 vehicles.
In the last 12 months, from April 2015 to April 2016, 906 vehicles had been sold.
Total sales in 2015 were about $25 million. In the last 12 months, sales were about $27 million.
He said company sales are “growing greatly.”
Henricks said if the problem is the railroad crossing at Defiance Street, there will also be problems on Co. Rd. 24 because the railroad crosses that road as well.
Dennis Howell, village administrator, said the village invested an additional $49,000 to study the feasibility of installing an underpass or overpass on Co. Rd. 24 as part of the highway realignment.