Officials of Innovative Injection Technologies Inc. are planning a three-year expansion in West Des Moines, Iowa, investing nearly $11 million to connect several buildings, add a second floor for office space, raise the roof over part of the plant and add six injection molding machines.
President Josh Janeczko said the moves will help the company, known as i2Tech, become more efficient and boost production capacity to handle a rebound in its business for the agricultural equipment market. Global weakness in the farming sector and construction equipment markets have impacted a major customer, Deere & Co.
Janeczko said i2Tech has increased business in the automotive and medical markets in recent years. Now agriculture is showing signs of bouncing back, as tooling has picked up, he said. Molding work will follow, and plastics applications continue to grow in farm equipment to reduce manufacturing costs and cut vehicle emissions, he added.
“We're doing this mostly because we anticipate our ag customers to rebound strongly, and we took a lot of other new business when the ag market was down,” he said. “We see the ag market rebounding over the next three or four years.”
The West Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission approved the project Jan. 16. Janeczko said the City Council is expected to give an OK when it meets Jan. 23.
The improvements will come in three phases. First, i2Tech will connect a complex of four buildings next to its main plant. The company bought the buildings, totaling about 38,000 square feet, in 2009, to relocate warehouse space that had been several miles away.
“So we intend to connect all of those buildings now, with an accessible breezeway to our main operations,” Janeczko said.
The company also will add more parking and outdoor storage for packaging and returnable containers.
That first phase, totaling $2 million, will start in March.
The second phase, about $5 million, will add a second story for offices. That will allow i2Tech to move production and quality offices off of the plant floor, and free up room there for manufacturing. And the company will raise the roof in the part of its main plant that houses nine mid-sized injection molding machines, with clamping forces of 400-900 tons.
The company will install a crane over those presses. Janeczko said i2Tech currently uses forklifts to change molds on those machines.
Phase two will start in late 2018 or early 2019, Janeczko said.
Once that work is done on the plant, i2Tech will add six new mid-tonnage injection molding presses, in 2019. The presses, crane, robotics and auxiliary equipment will add $3.7 million to the investment, Janeczko said.
He said i2Tech currently employs about 170. The three-year investment project will add 36 jobs. In mid-2016, the Iowa Economic Development Authority approved incentives for the i2Tech project. The company gets a credit on sales taxes paid for building materials, plus tax credits for investment and development. The city of West Des Moines is providing up to $258,000 in a five-year, sliding-scale property tax rebate.
The investment will help i2Tech prepare for the future.
“When the ag market comes back, we won't have enough capacity, and this is why we're preparing for that now,” Janeczko said.