Atlantis Plastics Inc. is expanding its Henderson, Ky., plant to accommodate extra business from Whirlpool Corp.
Whirlpool decided Atlantis can injection mold several refrigerator parts more efficiently than the appliance major can.
Whirlpool will close the injection molding shop in its Evansville, Ind., refrigerator plant and contract the work out to the Henderson-based custom injection molder.
Atlantis will begin the molding work Oct. 1, according to national sales manager Ken Comer. The company will install five former Whirlpool injection presses in existing space and build a 15,000-square-foot addition for more machinery.
By March, when the addition is done, Atlantis will have installed 12 presses, all with 700 tons of clamping force, to handle the new Whirlpool work.
About half the Henderson facility's work already is for Whirlpool, Comer said in a telephone interview.
The extra jobs will about double Henderson's molding for the Benton Harbor, Mich., appliance manufacturer. New work includes crisper pans, freezer floors and air-flow towers, all using general-purpose or high-impact polystyrene.
Comer said the Atlantis shop, unlike Whirlpool's Evansville factory, is nonunion.
Henderson's lower wages, combined with Atlantis' automation and other modern techniques, will cut costs compared with Evansville.
Whirlpool will save about $1 million a year by contracting the molding jobs to Atlantis, according to a report in the Henderson Gleaner newspaper.
Comer estimates the cost of Henderson's expansion at nearly $3 million. Atlantis will add 40 employees at the site.
He did not disclose molding workers' wages at Henderson, but he said they earn less than the $14 per hour including benefits earned by members of Electrical Workers Local 808 at the Whirlpool plant.
Atlantis' molded product sales grew 14 percent in the first half of 2002. Its injection molding sales last year were $65 million. The publicly held company is based in Atlanta.