Dayton manufacturer continues $80M post-tornado rebuild

Dayton, Ohio – Dayton-Phoenix Group, situated in Old North Dayton, manufactures components for the locomotive and mining industries. The 81-year-old company is a honoree for Manufacturing Business of the Year by Dayton Business Journal.

The company’s Dayton headquarters was directly hit by an F4 tornado during the Memorial Day tornadoes of 2019. But with that complete destruction has come many blessings, says CEO Christy Fox.

She’s been with the company 29 years, and was promoted to the CEO position in January. Gale Kooken, previous CEO, is now chairman of the board.

The timeline for DPG’s $80 million rebuild has been pushed back due to the pandemic and volatility in the construction industry, Fox said. Instead of moving in by the end of 2020, DPG hopes to fully occupy the building by the end of quarter one next year.

When the tornadoes hit last May, it took about 47 days before DPG was able to start up production again. By the end of 2019, DPG was $8 million behind on orders due to customers.

“We’ve gotten that down to $1 million past due,” Fox said.

Despite the pandemic, DPG did not have to lay off any employees. It’s also considered an essential businesses so no shutdowns occurred.

“We took advantage of the Payroll Protection Program and kept our doors open,” Fox said. “What we do is very important to the economy and country.”

As for its clients, Fox said the railroad industry was heavily hit and uncertainty still remains around its future rebound.

“The railroad industry is very linked to how the economy is doing,” Fox said. “Construction materials, automobiles, etc., so much is shipped by rail. We had 6,000 locomotives parked during this pandemic.”

In return, its locomotive clients haven’t needed the components DPG produces as much this year.

“We’re still praying a lot and holding our breath,” she said. “The tornado gave us work to do this year, when economy is down. That helped us.”

Fox said the post-tornado rebuild has allowed the company to completely improve its original 1960s building. It will now feature windows all around for natural light; greater air quality; new equipment and technology; and a cafeteria for the first time.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do that without being blown away from a tornado,” Fox said.

Fox said DPG’s year-end revenue for 2020 is still to be determined, but likely will fall close to how 2019 finished — around $70 million to $80 million.

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