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Growth prompts Lavelle to invest in Wis. facilities

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BURLINGTON, Wis.—Lavelle Industries Inc. will expand two Wisconsin production facilities, in Burlington and Whitewater, to support growth in its Korky toilet repair products line and original equipment rubber molded parts business.

Lavelle said it is adding rubber injection and compression molding presses at its headquarters in Burlington to meet increasing sales demand. The expansion project is expected to cost up to $15 million and create up to 90 jobs at both locations over the next three years.

“The added equipment and expanded facilities are needed to support past growth and future growth among new products, new customers and increased sales to existing customers,” said Deborah Scheffler, Lavelle chief financial officer. “Because of our growth, we have added and will continue to add new presses. The capital investments have allowed us to both increase capacity and upgrade technology of our rubber and plastic presses.”

The new equipment is the primary capital investment, Scheffler said, and the building expansions are necessary to make room for additional equipment.

The firm's growth across all areas of the company also has led to an increase to its work force, according to Scheffler.

“We will be adding team members in all segments of our business: production, engineering, sales and support areas,” she said.

Earlier this year, Lavelle said it purchased land from the Community Development Authority of Whitewater, adjacent to its existing Whitewater plant, to allow for expansion of the building. Construction began in October with expected completion in early summer 2015.

“I am pleased that Lavelle continues to grow by providing quality, domestically manufactured products to our customers,” Rhonda Sullivan, company president and majority owner, said in a news release. “We continually look for ways to stay competitive in an industry dominated by foreign competition.”

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing Lavelle with up to $991,250 in Economic Development tax credits over the next three years to support the project.

The actual amount of state tax credits issued is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment the company makes in the two projects.

“Economic Development tax credits are provided to Wisconsin companies that are expanding or out-of-state companies relocating here,” said a spokesman for the WEDC.

“They also are used to retain companies. For example, if a company is seriously considering relocating, we may offer these particular credits as an incentive to make sure the jobs stay in Wisconsin.”

He added that Lavelle's awards were based on two factors. If the company creates 93 new jobs over the next three years, it will be eligible for up to $451,000 in tax credits. In addition, the company can earn up to $540,250 in tax credits based on the level of capital investment in the expansion project.

The spokesman said if the company spends the entire $16 million as planned over the next three years, it will receive the full tax credit. Otherwise, as is the case with the jobs tax credits, the actual amount of credits is pro-rated based on the final extent of the expansions and hirings.

“This project is significant for us for two reasons: it is bringing jobs to two different parts of Wisconsin, and the company easily could have expanded elsewhere and was looking at options in other states,” he added.

“This is another example of a company that has seen the benefits of growing in Wisconsin—primarily a strong business climate and dedicated work force—and has made the commitment to remain in the state that it has called home for more than a century.”

Lavelle is a female-owned business that said it is committed to manufacturing in the U.S. to offer quality products and keep jobs in America. Lavelle's products are designed and manufactured in Wisconsin.

The firm said its Korky toilet flappers, fill valves and flush valves are sold through home centers, hardware stores, mass merchandisers and wholesale channels coast-to-coast.

“Lavelle is really in a competitive industry and one in which almost all of its competitors are manufacturing products overseas,” the WEDC spokesman said.

“In fact, Lavelle is the last domestic manufacturer of rubber and plastic toilet tank report parts.

Despite the strong competition from companies that have are outsourcing their production, Lavelle has remained a successful, growing company, and WEDC is pleased that we're able to play a role in that continued success.”