Republic Plastics plans to double the size of one of its Knoxville, Tenn., plants and add 200 hundred jobs at the location.
The McQueeney, Texas-based thermoformer completed an expansion at the plant last month and will complete another expansion next year. Altogether, the 98,000-square-foot facility will double in size, said CEO and President Gino Inman.
Republic also operates another 230,000-square-foot plant in Knoxville. In 2011, the company opened a second Knoxville facility, located in the same industrial park, because the first plant was landlocked, Inman said. The second plant originally served as a warehouse with 30-50 employees, but an expansion in 2011 allowed the facility to start manufacturing.
The company currently employs 300 full-time and seasonal workers in Knoxville, but when the dust settles, could employ up to 500, he said.
Republic thermoforms polystyrene foam containers and tableware. The company specializes in store-brand or private-label consumer products, such as plates and bowls, for retailers like Wal-Mart, Kroger and Winn-Dixie.
Private-label products have taken off in recent years, largely due to the economic recession, Inman said.
“The consumer is looking for value, and there's no difference in specification between the branded and the private-label or store brands,” he said, adding that consumers typically save 15-20 percent and will continue to buy store brands if products are high-quality.
The newest Knoxville plant will serve customers on the Eastern Seaboard. The increased capacity will also help Republic continue to expand into the warehouse club market, he said.
Republic also operates plants in McQueeney, Texas, and Eloy, Ariz. Those plants have undergone multiple expansions in the last few years, he said.
Inman helped found Republic Plastics in 1999. He would not disclose specific financial information, but said the company's sales were up 35 percent last year.
“I've worked for the billion-dollar companies; they trained me well, and now I'm competing with them,” he said.