ST. JOSEPH, Mich.—Vail Rubber Works Inc. is growing its presence with a new manufacturing facility located about five miles up the road from its headquarters.
The roll covering manufacturer is investing about $8.3 million in the 58,000-sq.-ft. facility, Vail President Bill Hanley said.
"We're a 125-year-old company, and the site we're on in St. Joseph was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1924. We're on a pie-shaped piece of property, and really we're quite land-locked," Hanley said. "It's something we've been struggling with for a lot of years. We've built out as far as the site will hold."
Vail purchased the land for the new facility in 1995, looking ahead to a time when the company would need to expand, he said.
"The economy's been good, and we just thought this was the time when we needed to take a step and develop that property," Hanley said. "This is planning for the long term. We think that this will be helpful for us now and in the future."
The new manufacturing facility will come in a little smaller than the current facility, but it will be more efficient and provide extra space for future growth, Hanley said. Roughly all of the space of the new facility will be used for manufacturing. Construction is planned to begin in April 2019, with a goal of completion by March 2020.
The project will expand potential capacity and improve flow in Vail's existing facility, Hanley said. The original facility, which has been the company's home for more than 100 years, was developed over time, "so the flow isn't always a straight-line shot," he said.
Hanley expects to bring in about 10 jobs with the new manufacturing facility, he said. The company has about 110 employees.
"It's really hard to say, we've been doing some gearing up over time," he said. "That would be initially. We think eventually it would grow beyond that.
"We're moving some over from the current facility too. It's only five miles away from our current facility, so it'll be easy to transfer work from one facility to the other."
Vail also is purchasing some new equipment for the new building, but Hanley did not disclose details.
The firm worked with Cornerstone Alliance, a regional economic development organization; the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; and Royalton Township officials to realize a 12-year tax abatement for the facility, Hanley said.
"It was very easy, very much appreciated," he said. "It should be good for Vail Rubber and good for Royalton Township in the long term."
The abatement comes with a job creation requirement, Hanley said.
"It's something to help develop areas and encourages manufacturers to invest. I think in 12 years, it'll be a significant help, and then things should be rolling well for everybody," he said.
Vail also has a smaller manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala., mostly to service local steel customers, Hanley said.
The new manufacturing space will open up future opportunities for Vail, Hanley added.
"As tight as our existing facility is, there's only so much we can do within that footprint," he said. "It means a lot to us. I think it's really setting Vail Rubber up for what the future has to offer."