Company chooses port authority land for its US expansion

EAST LIVERPOOL – The subsidiary of a small French company that designs and manufactures industrial printing and vision systems is coming to Leetonia.

The Columbiana County Port Authority board agreed last week to begin leasing space at its World Trade Park in Leetonia to Kelenn Tech LLC. The six-month lease is for 2,800 square feet at the park’s former network operations building, with the port authority being paid $1,100 per month.

Bryan Worth of Elkton is chief commercial officer for Kelenn, a subsidiary of Kelenn Technology, which is located 10 miles south of Paris in Antony, France. Worth said he and Kelenn Technology CEO Didier Rousseau created the partnership to do business in the United States.

“Our goal with Kelenn Tech is to expand the market for our products in the United States and move some of our engineering and development operations (to Leetonia) and, hopefully, one day move some of our manufacturing operations to the U.S.,” he said.

The Leetonia location will initially consist of Worth and one or two other employees. “We are hoping to expand to five or six employees in the next one or two years,” he said.

As mentioned above, Kelenn manufactures industrial vision equipment used for scanning and bar codes as part of the manufacturing process, along with industrial printing systems and related software. The systems can track, inspect, measure, personalize with ink, and mark on large and fast production lines.

Worth said the parent firm has about 20 employees and has been in business for eight years. “The company has done very well in Europe and we’re looking to bring the company to the United States and hope to grow the company,” he said.

Worth said he has spent the past 20 years in the industrial ink jet business before joining with Rousseau, and his business travels the past several years have taken him to Germany, Russia and Switzerland. “So I have a pretty good idea of the needs of the market,” he said.

In fact, Worth was in France at the parent company when contacted for this story. “It’s been quite an interesting experience for me … Most of my co-workers speak good English, so ordering something to eat is about the extent of my French,” he joked.

Worth is one of the chief engineers and will be doing much of the product development.

“I’m excited to be able to work close to home and set up an office there,” he said.