Fabri-Kal Corp. has begun an extensive upgrade and expansion of its thermoforming operations in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The firm plans to spend $41 million during the next five years to consolidate its research and manufacturing operations in Kalamazoo. About a quarter of the expense is to buy a 400,000-square-foot plant, formerly a Mead Paper Co. facility, and convert it to a multiuse facility, said spokesman Colin Butts in a telephone interview from Fabri-Kal's head office in Kalamazoo. The rest of the investment will be spent on renovations and equipment for the revamped facility.
Fabri-Kal will move its technical center and XP Division, which focuses on small-volume development work using roll stock programs, into the new operation. Those activities will be joined by inline thermoforming, a new program in Kalamazoo, as well as the firm's innovation center and new warehouse space. The company will begin operations there in the third quarter and expand and upgrade it during the next several years. The new plant will be a major packaging production center for the company.
``The innovation center and manufacturing space will allow Fabri-Kal to capitalize on the growth we've experienced over the past several years,'' said Fabri-Kal President Mike Roeder in a news release. ``Increasing the company's design and manufacturing capabilities will contribute to our leading position in the food-service and consumer packaged-goods markets.''
Locating the project in Michigan means Fabri-Kal can take advantage of the manufacturing and tooling expertise in the state, Roeder added. It also positions the operation near current customers. Fabri-Kal's other thermoforming operations, in Hazelton, Pa., and Greenville, S.C., will not be affected by the Kalamazoo project, Butts said.
Fabri-Kal will vacate an existing 187,000-square-foot building in Kalamazoo, now housing its XP Division, technical center and warehousing. It plans to sell the building on East Cork Street. The company will continue to maintain a separate head office in Kalamazoo.
The new facility will employ about 50 initially, mainly sourced from other operations in Kalamazoo. Another 160 new staff are expected to be hired over several years as the operation expands. Fabri-Kal now employs about 100 in Kalamazoo.
The innovation center will bring together the firm's design, engineering and manufacturing resources under one roof, a move expected to accelerate new product innovation.
``Fabri-Kal is proud to revitalize this Brownfield site in Kalamazoo, while adding to the employment base of the community in which we were founded,'' said Gary Galia, executive vice president of finance.
Fabri-Kal plans to certify the site with the International Organization for Standardization, the American Institute of Baking, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points. Once it is fully renovated, the building also should comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Fabri-Kal's project has been approved for a $3.5 million Michigan state tax credit and about another $3 million under the Kalamazoo's Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.
Fabri-Kal recorded thermoforming sales of $245 million last year. It employs 800 and runs 34 thermoforming lines. All of its work is packaging related and includes thin-gauge, extrusion, in-line extrusion and pressure forming capabilities.