New Life Comes To An Old Plant In Northern Indiana County

Once upon a time, there was a company that made chalkboards in this village, known as Dixonville as well as Barr Slope, that straddles three northern Indiana County townships, Green, Rayne and Cherryhill.

12/29/23, 12:11 PM New life comes to an old plant in northern Indiana County.

“I grew up with classmates whose jobs depended on this facility,” said state Senate Majority Leader Pittman, R-Indiana and a 1995 alumnus of Purchase Line High School.

Indiana County Commissioner R. Michael Keith, who worked there for almost 30 years, was among the former Greensteel employees on hand, as a new company moves in.

“Everywhere we went, people talked about Greensteel,” said Mark A. Lawer, an Indiana native whose father, Michael, was that company’s CEO. The younger Lawer is now CEO of Platinum Visual Solutions, a California company that will have its East Coast operations in that facility.

“This is a chance to come back to Indiana County and create jobs,” Lawer said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, bringing together Platinum staffers including General Manager John Walmsley, family members including Lawer’s mother, Marcella, who wielded the oversized scissors, and public officials including the three county commissioners, Pittman and state Reps. Jim Struzzi of Indiana and Brian Smith of Punxsutawney (the plant location is on the border between their legislative districts).

“This also will be a strong and viable business for the northern part of Indiana County,” said Keith, a former Rayne Township supervisor about to begin his second term on the county board.

“We are thrilled to expand our operations to the Midwest and East Coast,” said Gary P. Stell Jr., an Altoona native who is owner and chairman of Platinum, a company specializing in visual products such as whiteboards and chalkboards.

As the company put it in announcing its expansion into Pennsylvania, for over 60 years it has been at the forefront of solving classroom design challenges.

“We are dedicated to simplifying the teaching experience and fostering creativity and innovation,” accompany news release stated. “Our wide array of high-quality visual display products serves as a catalyst for inspiring great ideas.”

Production is scheduled to commence early in the new year of 2024, bringing jobs and economic growth to the local community while enhancing Platinum’s ability to efficiently produce and distribute high quality visual display products and solutions, including markerboards, chalkboards, trophy cases and more to Midwest and Eastern markets.

“We are grateful for the tremendous support we have received from local residents, leaders, and the state of Pennsylvania, and we are eager to get to work,” Stell said.

“I am committed to supporting their long-term success,” Pittman said.

Both Stell and Lawer learned the business from their fathers, with Stell purchasing Platinum from his father, Gary P. Stell, and Lawer’s father, Michael B. Lawer, ran the company that originally built and operated the plant Platinum is reopening.

“Western Pennsylvania is where both Gary and I learned the ABCs of business and life,” Mark Lawray. “To come full circle and return to my hometown and the former Greensteel plant where my dad showed me the ropes is incredible,”

Over time, Stell and Lawer said, Platinum plans to make the Dixonville plant its main manufacturing facility while maintaining its location in Corona, Calif., 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Keith thanked Lawer and Stell for “choosing ‘Indiana County First’,” and said he will continue to be committed in the efforts to make this company grow, and become the industry that we can all become proud of here in Indiana County.”

The commissioner thanked Pittman, county Planning Director Byron G. Stauffer Jr., and Maria Jack, county register of wills, recorder of deeds, and clerk of Orphan’s Court — and Mark Lawer’s sister.

Another county official involved in the eff ort to keep a plant going in the Greensteel location was Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts Randy Degenkolb, whose efforts with an non-profit t organization called LIFT (Local Initiative For Tomorrow) kept the old plant from complete disrepair in recent years.

“We just did our best to get small business there,” Degenkolb said.

More details about Platinum, including job possibilities in Dixonville, can be found at its pvsusa.com website.