A Michigan-based injection molder is establishing a second manufacturing site in the South as demand for its household products continues to rise.
HMS Mfg. Co. of Troy is moving into an existing 550,000-square-foot location at the Port of Little Rock, Ark., in a move that could eventually create up to 90 jobs.
HMS makes items such as trash cans, laundry baskets and storage bins.
"There were so many things that came together, but we felt welcome," HMS CEO Janet Sofy said. "We selected Little Rock based on the facilities. We selected Little Rock based on the available workforce," she said.
Cooperation from governmental officials, from the state level down to local officials, also played a big part in the decision, the CEO said.
"It's a three-year strategic plan. We laid out what our manufacturing needs were. It just became apparent that we needed more capacity, Sofy said.
The CEO of the private company declined to get into a lot of specifics about the project for competitive reasons, but did provide some big-picture views about the need to expand.
"We attribute it to long-standing relationships with our customers and innovative product design," she said.
HMS, which was founded in 1987, makes Hefty-brand trash cans for inside the home through a brand licensing agreement. The company also makes its own Home Logic brand of laundry, kitchen and organization products. Stola is the company's brand of tote bags and storage bins. The company also does private-label work.
HMS customers include Walmart Inc., which is based in Bentonville, Ark. In 2015, Walmart featured HMS in a web section highlighting products made by woman-owned companies.
News that HMS will inhabit the Little Rock building attracted the attention of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who was on hand at the project's announcement and introduced Sofy when she spoke.
HMS considered locations in three states for its new facility, and Hutchinson said he personally reached out to the company on behalf of the state.
"HMS Mfg. Co. will bring value to the area and continue to diversify our economy. This is a company I called on my first day of my second term to invite them to Arkansas, and I am glad they are coming," he said in a statement.
Arkansas makes geographic sense for HMS.
"I think the major reason is freight. We need to place ourselves throughout the U.S. to maintain freight and manufacturing capabilities for our customers," Sofy said.
Those customers include mass merchandise, specialty, home improvement, hardware, grocery, office and electronic retailers, the company said.
HMS is purchasing the building, but declined to reveal exactly how much the overall project will cost. Sofy did indicate that a locally reported price of $20 million was incorrect.
Local media also reported that HMS will install eight injection molding machines in the first phase of the project and another seven machines in the second phase. The first phase of the project is expected to begin operations next summer.
The company also has warehouse locations in Ohio, Texas and Kentucky as well as an overseas office in Hong Kong.