KALAMAZOO, MICH. — Newell Rubbermaid Inc. will create a $2.3 million design center in Kalamazoo, as part of a planned corporate increased focus on design and new product development.
"Having a purpose-built center of excellence will place us in an exclusive club of design-driven companies that recognize great design is a competitive advantage," said Mark Tarchetti, chief development officer, in a March 28 news release announcing the project.
Kalamazoo beat out a competing site in Chicago to house the center, state officials said. Newell Rubbermaid qualified for a $2 million business development performance-based grant from the state and $164,000 in local tax abatements from Kalamazoo.
The 40,000-square-foot center will employ up to 100 people. The company said it will look for new talent with specialized design skills to work along existing industrial designers and graphic design teams.
In September, Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid hired Chuck Jones, the former design chief for Whirlpool Corp., to help beef up its design and development projects. Jones helped lead the placement of the design center in Kalamazoo — at Western Michigan University — to tap into the existing design communities already in the region.
The area is home not only to Whirlpool in nearby Benton Harbor, Mich., but also office furniture makers Herman Miller Inc. and Steelcase Inc. and medical industry mainstay Stryker Corp.
The site will work with all of the company's brands and have "immersion" labs to develop design and marketing strategies and evaluate prototypes for future products, the company said.