Auburn, Ill.-based pipe maker Springfield Plastics Inc. (SPI) plans to expand its headquarters site by 63,000 square feet and add up to 65 employees to keep up with demand from farmers upgrading mostly corn and soybean fields with drainage tiles.
SPI's corrugated polyethylene pipe with tiny holes is installed about 3 feet underground to lower the water table of poorly drained lands. The work promotes deep and vigorous root growth.
Founded in 1968, Springfield Plastics currently employs about 90 people who serve customers in a nine-state area of the Midwest with agricultural, residential, commercial and highway drainage products.
Shareholder owned and family operated, the company promotes itself as the only U.S. manufacturer certified to use 100 percent virgin resin.
The Auburn expansion plans call for new or expanded facilities for production, raw materials management, quality control and warehousing.
Construction of two new buildings and an addition onto a third facility will begin in early 2023 and wrap up in 2024, but the hiring sign is out now.
One new building and the expansion will house manufacturing operations, according to SPI Vice President Jennifer Furkin.
"We're busting at the seams and don't have room for additional staff," Furkin said in a phone interview. "From late 2019 through 2020, 2021 and into 2022, demand has been at record high levels. Favorable commodity prices have put additional dollars in the farmers' pockets, which means they can invest in drainage."
The other new building will be used for warehousing and offices, currently in a 50-year-old facility, Furkin said.
Company officials are excited to begin a new era at Springfield Plastics, according to SPI President Steve Baker.
"Our board, executive team and staff have been working tirelessly to put this plan in place and bring a disciplined approach to our growth plans," Baker said in a news release.
Furkin credits the company's use of virgin PE as an attractive proposition that is taking market share from drainage products made with a percentage of recycled material.
"The 100 percent virgin resin addresses a structural integrity issue that we see in the drainage industry and it puts our quality message at the forefront in terms of our commitment to our customers," Furkin said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision for the farmers and contractors. They want something that will last so our quality is really driving the growth."
The new jobs will be created in manufacturing, engineering, sales, shipping and accounting.
"Our customers have come to expect a high level of service from our committed front-line and support staff," Furkin said. "By adding depth to nearly every department, we will be able to provide that same service to more customers across a larger geographic area."
Some new technology also will be installed as part of the latest investment but company officials declined to elaborate.
Doug Baker, SPI vice president of production, summed up the project like this: "Our new facilities and staff additions to operate them will fold seamlessly into our continued commitment to provide more product on time to our loyal and new customers."