HALSTEAD, Kan.—Legg Co. Inc. is expanding its belting operation with the addition of a plant at its manufacturing campus in Halstead.
The industrial and agricultural belt maker is adding a factory that spans about 25,000 square feet along with a 110-inch, four-roll inverted L calender, according to Vice President Ronald L. Marler. The facility and machine are expected to be operational by the middle of 2012.
In addition to housing the new calender, the plant will be used for compounding and fabric storage.
“This will allow us to produce 96-inch belts, a quantum step for Legg Co.,” he said. “The big advantage to being able to cure 96-inch rolls is that you can produce two belts at 48 inches. It drops the cost considerably and that will allow Legg Co. to compete.”
There also is a growing market for 84-inch and 96-inch wide belts as bulk material handling becomes bigger and more efficient, he said.
The company is operating at full capacity, six days a week, 24 hours a day. Adding another day won't result in the production of enough belts to make it worthwhile, Marler said.
Growing work force
Legg's work force, currently about 90, could grow slightly, but not because of the additional building. The new calender is much faster than the old one, Marler said, allowing Legg to manufacture more product with the same number of employees.
However, he noted, “we should be at 93, but we're having a hard time finding good rubber people to fill vacant spots.”
The firm has been adding employees steadily during the last three years: four in 2009, four in 2010 and four thus far this year.
“We added more people to cure more belts,” according to Marler. “Now we can cure more than we can calender.”
The wider width, combined with Legg's capability to handle 15-foot diameter, 60,000 pound rolls, makes the company extremely competitive in the commodity belting market, Marler said.
The new plant is the second Legg has added in the last four years. In 2008, the firm built a 25,000-sq.-ft. factory and its 16th press.
Legg's 2008 expansion gave it the ability to produce the 15-foot rolls. But as it continued to grow, it was obvious the company needed to create more room for a new 110-inch calender.
When the manufacturer expanded in 1996, it added space for 10-foot diameter rolls at 30,000 pounds and thought it was in pretty good shape. “It wasn't six months until we were cutting holes in the floor for bigger diameter rolls,” Marler said.
The latest addition gives the firm six plants on its campus and pushes its square footage to around 100,000.
Legg's steady growth can be attributed to the company's diverse product line and good service, he said. It makes everything from lightweight to heavyweight multi-ply belting, to heavy straight wrap in the flat black belt segment.
“We probably have the largest line of profiled top belting there is, from Diamond Top/Wedge grip to rough tops, chevrons, you name it,” the executive said. All are produced on virtually any carcass customers want.
The firm also offers a wide range of compounds: SBR, EPDM and numerous others.
“We will manufacture short run and narrow belts the big guys don't want to mess with,” he said. “And we have a very strong line of agricultural that will make up about 30 percent of sales this year compared to 26 percent in 2010 and 19 percent in 2009.”
Marler said the company is very flexible in the requirements it places on customers.
“In a lot of cases, they want to call and change the construction of a belt just a few days before it's scheduled to run. They thought they needed 'belt A' a few months back, now they realize they need 'belt B' instead. That's fine with us if they want to add or subtract a ply or change cover gauge or compound.”
Legg, which began operating in 1939 and claims that it offers the widest range of belting products in the world, has seen growth on both the agricultural and industrial belt sides of its business.
It's pretty much evenly split in the industrial segment, with packaging, metals, lumber and numerous others all holding their own, the executive said. Belts used to move metals, in particular, are a big-ticket item, but they don't draw the fanfare of larger belts.
Legg, which distributes belting globally, services a variety of markets, including agricultural, logging, pulp, paper, sand, gravel, aggregate, food, mining, construction, package handling, warehousing, grain and a number of other industries.