Blow molder Lifetime Products Inc. is investing $115 million in a new factory in Tennessee, a substantial geographic expansion in the eastern U.S. for the Utah-based firm.
The company and Tennessee state officials announced the investment Nov. 20, and said Lifetime would be manufacturing its line of blow-molded kayaks and other water sports products and outdoor children's playsets.
The Clearfield, Utah-based company is taking over an existing 360,000-square-foot building to use for manufacturing and distribution, and plans to double the size by adding another building, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's office said in an announcement.
The new facility, in Knox County outside the city of Knoxville, will be operational in mid-2017, the news release said. It will employ 500 people.
“With the size and freight cost of shipping kayaks, it only makes sense that we produce products further east,” said Lifetime President and CEO Richard Hendrickson. “This expansion will help us better service the East Coast.”
The company, which has 2,700 employees worldwide, has in the past described its Utah facilities as one of the largest single drop points for PE resin in the western United States. It also has manufacturing in China and Mexico.
Lifetime has been expanding in the kayak market in recent years. In 2010 it bought the assets of a small California kayak maker Dragonfly Innovation Corp. to get into the business, and brought that manufacturing to Clearfield.
It followed that with a $41 million investment in Utah in 2011 to expand kayak manufacturing, after it bought Emotion Kayaks Inc. in Pennsylvania.
Lifetime said it's also the world's largest maker of polyethylene folding tables, chairs, and residential basketball hoops.