Wilbert Plastics Services Inc. said Jan. 6 that it will relocate its corporate headquarters from the Chicago area to Belmont, N.C.
The Broadview, Ill.-based thermoformer and injection molder plans to add 41 jobs in Belmont and spend $5.7 million on improvements during the next three years including adding capacity at its thermoforming plant there, President and CEO Greg Botner said in a telephone interview.
We're finding that the bulk of our [customer] activity is in the Southeast, the South and the border regions, as well as Mexico, he said. Plus, the new headquarters will be nearer to our Southern manufacturing operations.
According to a news release from North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue's office, Wilbert's 41 new headquarters positions will pay an average annual salary of about $94,000, not including benefits far above the surrounding Gaston County wage average of about $33,000.
Our top-notch business climate, highly skilled workforce and tremendous quality of life are among the primary reasons businesses are choosing our state to relocate their headquarters and grow operations, Perdue said.
Wilbert received an $82,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund (which aims to recruit and expand jobs in high value-added, knowledge-driven industries) to help relocate its headquarters, state officials said.
Botner said the move falls under a larger, long-term reorganization of the firm, and that six or seven of about 10 employees in Illinois will move south to the new headquarters.
According to Botner, in January 2009, Wilbert Inc., the holding company of Wilbert Plastics Services and burial vault maker Wilbert Funeral Services Inc., spun off the burial vault business. That business continues to be based in Broadview and buys thermoformed plastic vault liners from Wilbert Plastic Services.
Wilbert Inc. in 2008 shut down a factory in Little Hocking, Ohio, that thermoformed components for burial vaults. The company in 2007 sold its TriEnda heavy-gauge thermoforming plant in Portage, Wis., to Curtis Zamec, Wilbert's former CEO and president.
We had a solid , given the economic downturn, Botner said. We're off 33 percent overall in our sales but we have pared debt, sold off TriEnda, had effective management of working capital and have found ourselves in a very strong position moving forward.
We also may be looking for an acquisition in the near future, Botner said. He would not say exactly what kind of business Wilbert has in mind.
Wilbert is a national supplier to the agricultural, automotive, building products, industrial equipment, consumer products, electronics, health-care, recreational vehicle/watercraft, waste management and custom parts markets.
According to a presentation given by Wilbert during the new headquarters announcement, the company's North Carolina plants include the one in Belmont, which covers 100,000 square feet, has 10 thermoforming machines and employs 81; and an injection molding plant in Harrisburg that covers about 120,000 square feet, houses 32 machines ranging from 85-1,450 tons, and employs 90.
Wilbert's other thermoforming plants include:
* A 310,00-square-foot White Bear Lake, Minn., facility with 15 machines and 145 employees.
* A 120,000-square-foot factory in Winthrop, Iowa, that has nine machines and employs 117.
The company's other injection molding plants are:
* A Bellevue, Ohio, 196,000-square-foot facility that has 42 machines with clamping forces of 150-1,100 tons, and employs 147.
* A 176,000-square-foot factory in Lebanon, Ky., with 36 machines ranging from 85-1,100 tons, and 124 workers.
* A St. Matthews, S.C., 135,000-square-foot plant, with 19 machines ranging from 220-3,500 tons, and 79 employees.
In Plastics News' most recent sales-based industry rankings, Wilbert was the No. 10 thermoformer and the No. 62 injection molder in North America, with combined 2008 sales of about $180 million.
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