Berry Global Group Inc. is considering expanding the company's thermoforming capabilities and looking close to home during the decision-making process.
The Evansville, Ind.-based plastics processing giant confirmed the potential for the project but had little else to add Aug. 25.
"Berry Global Group Inc. is considering increasing its thermoforming capacity, which could include an investment in new manufacturing equipment as well as the hiring of additional employees," Berry said in a statement.
"The company is currently evaluating its location options for the potential project, including our Evansville, Ind., manufacturing facility," the statement continued.
Berry, which started as a single-site business in Evansville back in 1967 originally called Imperial Plastics, now has nearly 300 locations spread around the world.
A decision on whether to expand is expected next month.
Greg Wathen is co-CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership, which appeared before the Evansville City Council as part of the consideration for tax relief should the project move forward.
He explained, in an email interview, the council's initial approval Aug. 23 involved what is known as a declaratory resolution that could be followed by another council vote Sept. 13 "if the project moves forward."
"As this is a competitive project as well, Berry Global is looking [at] the possibility of an expansion in our market; and, what occurred during the Monday city council meeting was the first step of securing some property tax relief through an abatement," he said in the email exchange.
Wathen's said his economic development organization helps manage tax incentives.
Neither Wathen nor Berry provided potential job creation numbers nor the proposed value of the project. But the local Courier & Press newspaper reported the potential to create 70 new jobs with an average wage of $22 an hour through a $34.2 million expansion.
Investing in new thermoforming capacity would be in line with a desire to grow from within that the company's management has been stressing.
The company, which adopted the Berry name when Jack Berry Sr. purchased the firm in 1983, has spent decades using acquisitions to help fuel growth into a company that now has more than $13 billion in annual sales.
But CEO Tom Salmon, during a recent interview, stressed a desire to pursue so-called organic growth while also keeping an eye open for just the right type of acquisitions. Creating new thermoforming capacity in its hometown would be an example of this type of growth based on existing operations and expertise.
"We can operate as a low-cost producer. We can do M&A. We can demonstrate we can grow organically," the CEO said.
Berry has proven an expertise in making acquisitions, but Salmon said the company needed to expand its business approach when he arrived as CEO four years ago.
"We decided we need another leg to our stool, no doubt about it," he said. "What we needed to also do is demonstrate our ability to complement that with organic growth. This has been a multiyear journey."
Wathen indicated any potential tax relief would be on personal property such as equipment and not on real estate. "Until the project actually moves forward and approvals are locked in, it's not a deal until it is one," he said.