From The Columbus Dispatch

It’s a manufacturing idea that dates to the early days of the automobile industry in Detroit and is one of the reasons China supplies the world with iPhones and Barbie dolls.

And now, this concept of locating all the links of the supply chain within shouting distance of the final assembler has found a 1.4 million-square-foot home in New Albany at the new Personal Care, Health and Beauty Park.

Light-manufacturing companies there have begun to churn out and package beauty and health-care products for nearby Limited Brands and other companies across the country. Estimates say the park and its companies will create 1,500 full-time jobs and hundreds more part-time positions.

“We have eight great companies here willing to work together and bring business back to the United States,” said David Abraham, co-CEO of Accel, the park’s final assembler.

The companies that have set up shop at the beauty park have headquarters throughout the United States, as well as Canada and England. They will now produce candles, shower gels and soaps, cosmetics and toiletries, air fresheners and a wide variety of packaging in their new New Albany digs.

“The idea for the park comes from Asia,” said Joel Pizzuti of Pizzuti Cos., a local developer that built three of the park’s seven buildings. “You can do it all in one location and cut costs and improve the speed to market.”

Then again, the idea might have a closer origin.

“As a result of Honda going to Marysville, all their suppliers came together there,” said Bill Ebbing, president of the New Albany Co., the developer of the beauty park. “That’s how the auto industry does it.”

The products manufactured at the new park are packaged in Accel’s massive, 510,000-square-foot building, which is a hive of activity. On a busy day, there are as many as 800 workers staffing 40 or 50 assembly lines.

They work 9 1/2-hour shifts, four days a week, with two half-hour breaks — and are paid a minimum of $8.25 an hour.

“I don’t know of any other business park in the United States that has this supply chain and manufacturing and innovation, this cluster development, all in one place,” said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s director of development.

Here’s how it works:

“Let’s take a bottle of body wash for Bath and Body Works,” said Bill Rusch, a senior adviser at Anomatic Corp., a Newark-based company that produces anodized, or hard, corrosion-resistant, aluminum products. It has a 75,000-square-foot operation in the park.

The molded plastic bottles are produced at the park by two of the park’s companies, Sonoco and Axium, he said, noting that both previously made them in Canada and shipped them to the companies that filled the bottles.

“There are two companies here — KDC and Vee Pak — that make and blend the bath products that go in the bottles,” Rusch said, adding these products were formerly manufactured in Canada and Illinois, “and now they’ll be made here.”

Anomatic makes the aluminum cap that goes on top of the bottle — and the completed product is sent to Accel for packaging.

“We used to have trailer loads of product going back and forth across the country, and now we send it across the street,” Rusch said. “The whole concept is leaner manufacturing.”

And this, Rusch and Abraham say, allows the companies in the park to be competitive with their offshore competitors, even those in China, and get products from the design phase to the market faster.

Accel, Vee Pak and Anomatic have begun operations in the park, while the other five companies are scheduled to begin manufacturing this summer.

The park is a collaboration among the eight companies, the village of New Albany and the New Albany Co., which was founded by Leslie H. Wexner, who is also the chief executive of Limited Brands.

The beauty park is part of the larger 6,000-acre business park created by the New Albany Co. This new campus occupies 200 acres at the intersection of Beech and Smith’s Mill roads, just north of Rt. 161.

“We tried to find a common thread and figure out how we can make business better for everyone and clusters that allow companies to be more responsive and productive work,” Ebbing said.

New Albany helped lure these companies with 100 percent property-tax abatements for seven to 15 years. The length depends on the expected payroll generated by a company; the more they generate, the longer the abatement.

The new park will create $725,000 a year in additional income tax for New Albany, Chrysler said.

“We were running out of capacity in Newark,” Rusch said. “We looked all over Ohio and in northern Kentucky and Mexico and felt the beauty park offered the greatest opportunity.”

To qualify for the property-tax abatement, a building must meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design.

Pizzuti built the buildings for Accel, Axium and a multi-tenant structure that houses Jeyes and Alene Candles and has room for a third tenant.

“On the front end, it starts with the way we source and treat and recycle materials,” Joel Pizzuti said. “And the buildings contain high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning systems.”

The lighting systems are also more efficient and employ motion sensors to further reduce electricity use.

All of these energy-saving systems are in place at Accel, which 17 years ago began business in a 1,200-square-foot building.

“I don’t think about all that we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come,” Abraham said. “I think about what’s next and how we can do things better.”