AKRON—For the first time in more than a decade and a half, Akron Rubber Development Laboratory Inc. is expanding.
The family run business recently completed the acquisition of an 11-acre property that eventually will house all of its laboratories.
The property, located in nearby Barberton, Ohio, includes two joined facilities—with a total of 130,000 square feet—that will be converted into ARDL's headquarters. Currently, ARDL occupies three separate properties totaling 55,000 square feet.
“We don't have room to put even one other person,” ARDL CEO Tim Samples said. “When we finished our last expansion, we were out of space. We've been out of space for a while.”
The new facility provides about 25,000 extra square feet of space, and with 11 acres, Samples said, “We can grow into it.”
Samples said ARDL paid $1.4 million for the property, part of an $11.5 million investment. The new facility has been vacant for a year and a half, after the former B&W Engineering closed.
Renovation already has begun, as part of the roof has been replaced. The project is expected to take five years to complete. Two of the Akron properties will be sold once the third phase of the expansion is complete. The firm said the transition will be done with care, as to not disrupt service to customers.
ARDL, in its third generation as a family run business, has more than 100 employees. The firm was founded in 1962 by Samples' father, the late Charles Robert Samples. Tim Samples and four of his siblings are involved in the business.
“We couldn't be more excited,” Samples said. “We've been in business over 54 years, and we now have plenty of space to bring the company together and allow it to evolve and grow for the foreseeable future.”
Samples said the firm expects to continue growing, both in terms of employees and sales. He said the firm has grown 10 to 15 percent each year over the past few years.
“We try to play it safe and not stretch too far, since we're a privately held company,” Samples said.
Greg Simms, ARDL's director of innovation and sustainability who is heading the project, praised the city of Barberton and the Barberton Community Development Corp. “We are confident this move will improve efficiency and enhance client experience,” he said.
The Barberton Community Development Corp., using economic development money from the Barberton Community Foundation, will provide a $2.5 million low-interest loan to help ARDL with renovations.
“This is what makes Barberton so unique,” Scott Wagner, executive director of the Barberton Community Development Corp., said in a statement. “The partnership between the city of Barberton, the Barberton Community Development Corp. and the Barberton Community Foundation is a very powerful economic development tool.”
Mayor William Judge said economic development has been his priority since taking office. “As such, we have been engaged with ARDL for over a year and having the ability to collaborate with the Barberton Community Development Corp., the Barberton Community Foundation and ARDL to fill a previously vacant building with jobs is exciting. I look forward to ARDL becoming a part of the Barberton community.”
ARDL provides independent testing, development and problem-solving for the rubber, plastics and textile industries.