The expansion will help Smoker Craft meet increased consumer demand, and create up to 100 new jobs.
Smoker Craft Inc., a fifth-generation, family-owned boat and pontoon manufacturer, will invest $12 million to construct and equip a 200,000-square-foot space on its current 600,000-square-foot production campus in New Paris, IN. The new facility, which will be used for additional boat manufacturing and shipping, will create up to 100 new jobs by the end of 2024.
“Smoker Craft Inc. started construction on a 200,000-square-foot warehouse and shipping facility,” said Tim Jones, Vice President of Finance for Smoker Craft. “This expansion will be used to increase efficiencies to the loading process and allow us to ship not only more boats to our dealers all over North America, but raise the quality of the delivered product. The warehouse portion of the project is designed to free up manufacturing space in all three of our product lines: Aluminum fishing boats, pontoon boats and fiberglass deck boats.”
“This expansion will help meet the increased demand for our product throughout our dealer network,” Jones added. “We look forward to bringing more quality jobs to New Paris, and continuing our growth in the marine industry.”
The announcement comes nearly seven years after Smoker Craft announced plans to expand operations in New Paris, investing $4.1 million and creating up to 100 new jobs by the end of 2018. The latest expansion project will allow the company to serve growing customer demand. Construction has begun, and the new building is expected to be fully operational by April 2022.
“With homegrown Hoosier companies like Smoker Craft at the helm, Indiana will continue driving its economy forward, positioning our state for long-term economic stabilization and growth,” said Jim Staton, SVP and Chief Business Development Officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). “We’re excited Smoker Craft chose to continue propelling its growth here in Indiana, creating even more quality career opportunities for Hoosiers.”
Founded in 1961, Smoker Craft produces aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass sport boats and next-generation performance pontoons. The business sells its boats through a domestic and international network of more than 300 dealers.
Based on the company’s job creation plans, the IEDC committed an investment in Smoker Craft of up to $600,000 in the form of incentive-based tax credits. The IEDC will also commit up to $200,000 from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, so the company is eligible to claim incentives once employees are hired and investments are made. The Elkhart County Council approved real and personal property tax incentives.
“We are extremely pleased that Smoker Craft Inc., a legacy Elkhart County company and a leader in the boating industry, continues to thrive and grow additional production capabilities in New Paris,” said Chris Stager, President of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County.
The company, which currently employs 800 U.S. associates, including 770 in Indiana, is hiring for computer numerical control (CNC) welding positions. Interested applicants may apply online.
ELKHART, IN – A new RV company is launching at a time when the RV industry struggles through a shortage of workers and supply chain issues. Despite these issues, Encore RV is charging forward, almost embracing the headwinds many companies are facing today, according to a press release from the company.
Encore RV was founded in 2020 by Rich Schnippel, who has been involved in the RV and motorsports trailer industry since 2000, since 2010 with inTech RV. The new company is planning to introduce their product during the upcoming Elkhart Open House, later this month. In their inaugural year, Encore RV invites dealers to stop out at their manufacturing facility in Elkhart to look, not only at the campers, but also the production facility and see what makes this company unique.
Encore’s first product line, RŌM, will target the lightweight adventure trailer market that has become increasingly popular over the past 5 years, and Schnippel was a pioneer, designing several of today’s most popular models. “Our desire is to create a product line which stands apart from other adventure trailers currently offered,” Schnippel stated, “we’ve designed the most well thought out and functional trailers in the market.”
One of the biggest standout features in the RŌM series is the 100% wood-free construction. Every RŌM trailer showcases a lightweight, fully welded, all-aluminum frame and chassis. To maintain the wood-free product, Encore utilizes composite floors and interior walls, while cabinetry is manufactured using precision CNC laser cut aluminum. This results in a strong, long-lasting and lightweight product.
Schnippel added, “I think people are going to be surprised at the value we’ve provided. A lot of time has been spent meeting with and listening to both dealers and retail customers. They’ve made it clear what’s important and we’ve incorporated those ideas into our designs and construction. I’ve always enjoyed the design process and creating products which evoke real emotion…a passion you can see and hear when you’re talking to owners. It’s this passion which drives our innovation and motivates us to be better every single day.”
Encore has already begun establishing their dealer network and will be entertaining additional opportunities during the Open House, the release states.
If you would like to see the new RŌM series and learn more about Encore RV, stop out during the Open House. Encore RV is located at 4340 Pine Creek Road in Elkhart, Ind., just a short drive from the RV Hall of Fame.
With earth-moving machines in the background, business dignitaries and elected officials gathered Tuesday (June 22) afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new 500,000-square-foot production and distribution facility for the Dallas, Texas-based MJB Wood Group LLC.
The new facility will be located on a 37-acre parcel on State Road 120 in Bristol, Ind., just south of Country Road 21.
Expected to open in April of 2022, the new facility will consolidate the current MJB Wood Group’s existing 228,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, Ind., and will eventually employ over 100 people – about twice the number the current facility employs.
Cliff Caudill, the division manager for MJB Wood Group, said the facility will serve both the manufacturing and distribution side of the company, which among its other operations provides composite and engineered wood, plywood, LVL and LSL to the RV industry.
“We will be on about 38 acres in this 400-acre complex,” he told RVBusiness. “Mainly dedicated to distribution and inventory of products as well as some light manufacturing and assembly. We will be bringing in some new equipment and new capabilities for MJB to support the RV industry, as well marine, utility vehicles and cargo trailers.”
He explained that some of the support to these industry segments will encompassing more of its business units and include furniture and fixtures, millwork, doors and entry doors. Additional fabrication onsite will include cut-to-size panels for area OEMs as the facility includes a 100,000-square-foot fabrication area that will allow it to offer custom services such as cut-to-size, CNC machining, molding, kitting and light assembly.
“This will more than double our capacity for outbound goods,” added Caudill. “There will be semi bays in the new facility for outbound.” According to the company over the past five years, MJB has experienced tremendous growth in the region, exceeding 18% year-over-year revenue.”
Prior to the groundbreaking itself, Scott Griggs, a 14-year veteran of MJB who was promoted to its president in July 2020, took time to the share the future vision of the company with RVBusiness.
“Currently, our general manager, Cliff, and his team have done an amazing job with the limited capacities we are in currently,” Griggs said. “Now, with this new 500,000-square-foot facility, we will be integrating manufacturing and distribution into one location instead of three making us far more efficient. This will give us the ability to better service the RV industry and industries beyond giving us a platform to serve a Midwestern region.
“We are a unique company because, although RV is our biggest industry segment, we are heavy into doors, millwork, cabinets, fixtures and furniture. We bring in a lot of imports. So, we are one of those companies that put components of products into everyone’s daily life but they have never heard of us.”
Griggs added that having the rail spur was key for the new facility. “Not only having the rail spur here, but being able to unload the cars inside the facility is a game changer for our company,” he said. “Now we have total indoor unload with greater capacity and better efficiencies. Rail was a non-negotiable on this project for us. We just had to have it.”
“We are really thrilled to be here with this expansion at this exciting time,” added Nathen Klomp, MJB’s director of business development and marketing. “Business has been very strong over the past few years and this is something we’ve been wanting to accomplish. With as good as things are going in the RV industry and generally in the U.S. we think this is a strong play for us to support this industry in this region.”
MJB Chairman of the Board Timothy Coors, a fifth-generation member of the Coors Brewing family, summed up the day’s events.
“The Coors family is proud owners of MJB, and we are very excited to expand our investment and workforce in Bristol and Elkhart County to serve our growing, primary end markets of RV, cabinets, furniture, and transportation,” said Coors. “In Bristol, Ind. we truly have a supportive partnership with the city, county and community. We could not have selected a better place to locate our new state-of-the-art facility for MJB.”
Stonemont Financial Group is the developer of the project and ARCO Construction Company is the general contractor. Josh Wheeler of Stonemont Financial Group Development stated, “We are really excited to have a partner in MJB Wood with this big, rail-served facility that is their first facility of this type and will be one of their flagship operations around the country.”
It’s worth noting that also in attendance of the event were 10-plus government officials from the city, township, county and state, including Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who recognized the team effort that went into bringing the facility to Elkhart County.
Other dignitaries at the groundbreaking were: Indiana State Rep. Joanna King; Elkhart County Commissioners Frank Lucchese, Brad Rogers and Suzanne Weirick; Elkhart County Councilmember Douglas Graham; Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy; Bristol Town Councilmembers Whitney Pierle and Jill Swartz; Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder; and Bristol Town Clerk & Treasurer Cathy Antonelli.
The record-setting growth of the RV industry is leading to an unprecedented construction boom as manufacturers and suppliers work to keep up with demand.
According to the RV Industry Association, RV shipments to dealers in May reached 49,241 units, the best May on record and the seventh consecutive month that the industry has set a production record.
And even with those high production numbers, dealers are still having a hard time keeping inventory on their lots, as towable and motorized campers are often sold even before they reach sales lots.
That demand for RVs has resulted in a flurry of construction activity throughout the Elkhart County area as manufacturers and suppliers aim to boost capacity with more space — but space that is designed to maximize production efficiency and might include elements of automation.
“We’re involved in more than $300 million in projects right now,” said Chris Stager, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County. “The work is largely in the RV industry, but there’s some boating in there and portions of the supply chain.”
Stager said the work that is planned or underway is more than double last year’s total and a likely a new high mark for the economic development agency.
Some recently announced or completed projects include: a 500,000-square-foot production, warehouse and distribution facility in Bristol that is being built for MJB Wood Group, a manufacturer and distributor of cabinets, fixtures, furniture, automotive components and other goods and an 800,000-square-foot warehouse, showroom and office complex in Elkhart for Way Interglobal, a supplier of RV appliances, electronics and furnishing for the RV industry.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account
Beyond those projects, Alliance RV is developing three expansions amounting to about 500,000 square feet, Dave Carter & Associates is working on a 68,000-square-foot expansion and General RV Center has opened a 112,000-square-foot inspection center built in Bristol.
Both Bristol Town Manager Mike Yoder and Stager said there are numerous other projects — including new RV companies — that are also moving forward and will likely come to fruition.
Even as new space is being developed — pushing up land costs along the way — one of the biggest issues facing the industry is the need for workers to help build RVs, boats and the parts and accessories needed by those industries.
“We’re importing more than 35,000 workers a day, and many are coming from 45 minutes away,” Stager said. “Unless you want to work in the service industry, we’re the economic hub for the region when it comes to producing jobs.”
Many RV companies have boosted starting pay to $20 and above and are offering comprehensive benefit packages and amenities to win and retain employees, said Stager. Businesses that can’t pay those wages and benefits are generally those struggling to find employees, he added.
Though the coronavirus pandemic further spurred interest in RVing, boating and other outdoor activities, it also resulted in a lot of retirements of Baby Boomers who were working in the industry, further exacerbating the thin supply of labor here and across the country, Stager said.
But even as companies seek to improve efficiencies and incorporate technology into the manufacturing process, the labor shortages likely won’t be disappearing overnight, he added.
The new Coolest Thing Made in Indiana competition celebrates the state’s long manufacturing history. It’s for companies who make all kinds of things. Businesses that have been around for decades or budding entrepreneurs. Companies entered in the tournament face off in a single-elimination bracket format. Winners are chosen through public fan voting. Each winner goes to the next round until we reach the coveted final four teams and an ultimate Coolest Thing Made in Indiana champion. The competition starts in late 2021, but businesses can sign up now to be notified when they can enter.
Although 2020’s global pandemic resulted in some projects being stalled or canceled, the annual Shovel Awards recognize many other new and expanded facilities plans that are on track and expected to create thousands of jobs and billions in investment.
Area Development’s annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high-value-added investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. We asked for information from all 50 states about their top-10 job-creation and investment projects initiated in 2020. Based on a combination of weighted factors — including the number of new jobs to be created in relation to the state’s population, the combined dollar amount of the investments, the number of new facilities, and the diversity of industry represented — five states achieving the highest weighted overall scores were awarded Area Development’s Gold Shovels in five population categories: 12+ million, 8+ to 12 million, 5+ to 8 million, 3+ to 5 million, and fewer than 3 million. Three other states were awarded Gold Shovels for their achievements in the manufacturing sector. Finally, runners-up in each of the above population categories were awarded Silver Shovels.
AROUND THIS TIME A YEAR AGO, a lot of life seemed to be in a holding pattern, with progress on many things at a near standstill amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But not everyone allowed adversity to stand in the way of opportunity.
Indeed, while most of us were learning the term “social distancing,” exploring the ins and outs of masking, searching for toilet paper, and perfecting the art of sourdough baking, economic development leaders in quite a few states remained plugged into their phones and Zoom meetings, making impressive location deals. By many measures, 2020 was a downer of a business year, but our Shovel Awards unearthed plenty of good news.
Our state honors are based on information provided by economic development officials (see methodology), and the info was current at the time it was provided. Needless to say, the pandemic threw curveballs that may have altered some plans. But please read on for some of the best economic development news to emerge from a crazy year.
2021 GOLD SHOVEL AWARDS: THE WINNING STATES
Texas (12+ Million Population)
North Carolina (8 to 12 Million Population)
Michigan – Manufacturing (8 to 12 Million Population)
Arizona (5 to 8 Million Population)
Indiana – Manufacturing (5 to 8 Million Population)
Utah (3 to 5 Million Population)
Alabama – Manufacturing (3 to 5 Million Population)
Kansas (Under 3 Million Population)
2021 Silver Shovel Awards
12+ Million Population Category
8+ to 12 Million Population Category
5+ to 8 Million Population Category
3+ to 5 Million Population Category
Under 3 Million Population Category
Creating Lots of Jobs It was hard to miss all of the last year’s headlines focused on job loss. But in our Gold Shovel and Silver Shovel states, there were all kinds of headlines announcing major job-creating plans. The ones with four-digit job promises are discussed below — and a number of these big-job deals are also mentioned in separate sidebars focused on the year’s top projects.
Texas took home another Gold Shovel honor, pulled into the top slot among the most populous states by none other than an electric engine.
Amazon has a habit of sprinkling big-job projects all over the place, and it certainly didn’t disappoint the residents of the Lone Star State. The e-commerce and technology giant brought forth not just one, not just two, but three different Texas projects in 2020 — a thousand jobs each for Waco and Pflugerville, and 1,500 for Oak Cliff. Meanwhile, the company pledged $237 million and 1,500 jobs at a new fulfillment site in Windsor, the biggest jobs announcement of the year in the Silver Shovel state of Connecticut.
Another Amazon mega project was announced in Gold Shovel-winning Arizona, where as many as 1,975 jobs are slated for Maricopa County. And two Amazon projects were the biggest job creators announced in Silver Shovel-winning Tennessee, in Mount Juliet and Memphis, each expected to employ a thousand people and lots of robots. More 1,000-job Amazon projects are slated for Little Rock, in the Silver Shovel state of Arkansas, and Madison County, leading the way toward Mississippi’s Silver Shovel status. All of these “help wanted” signs, plus several smaller Amazon projects across the country, have been welcome in the midst of a pandemic-caused downturn. But of course, Amazon was one of the companies in the best position to benefit from the fact that so many people were choosing to shop from home.
Walmart had some 1,000-job distribution center projects of its own to add to the list. One, with an investment of $220 million, is slated for Dorchester County, in Silver Shovel winner South Carolina. Another, carrying a potential price tag of $606 million, was announced in the Indianapolis metropolitan community of Greenfield, in the Manufacturing Gold Shovel winning state of Indiana.
Another prominent company to benefit from the pandemic was Peloton, buoyed by the fact that so many fitness-focused people were forced out of the gym and into alternative fitness arrangements in their basements or spare bedrooms. Lots and lots of them bought Peloton products, and by December the company announced plans to expand its Plano campus and add some 1,600 Texas jobs in varying corporate functions. Texas also celebrated 1,200 jobs to be created by a FedEx Ground sorting facility in Dallas.
Beyond the Amazon project mentioned above, Gold Shovel winner Arizona announced another pair of major job developments in 2020. The RealReal, an online luxury consigner, picked Phoenix for its fourth e-commerce center, saying it would hire 1,685 people over the next few years. And Taiwan Semiconductor in Phoenix will create 1,600 jobs making silicon chips (see the project sidebar).Missouri bolstered its Silver Shovel status with a pair of big-job projects. In St. Louis County, Accenture Federal Services plans to create some 1,400 jobs (see the project sidebar for more details). And in the Kansas City metropolitan community of Belton, pet products distributor Chewy announced plans for a distribution center that will begin with 1,200 new jobs and potentially grow to 1,600.
The biggest job-creating project of the year in South Carolina was in the business of agriculture and aquaculture. Located in Hampton County, the Agriculture Technology Campus is a $314 million, 1,500-job project located on a thousand-acre site filled with greenhouses, a distribution center, and a co-packing facility. Partners in the joint venture include Mastronardi, Clear Water Farms, LiDestri Food and Drink, and the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund.
A few more deals promise four-digit job counts in our Shovel-winning states. Gold Shovel honoree Kansas had its biggest project — from both dollars-invested and new-jobs perspectives — in Kansas City, where Urban Outfitters announced plans for a distribution center. The $403 million project will create at least 1,734 jobs. In Hartford, Connecticut, Infosys will be expanding by 1,000 jobs more than already planned.
2021 Gold & Silver Shovel Awards: Projects Of The Year (2020)
Del Valle, TX
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Weber County, UT
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
West Baton Rouge,LA
Ultium Cells LLC
Accenture Federal Services LLC
St. Louis, MO
Healthy Investments Needless to say, health was a front-and-center topic on everyone’s minds in 2020, as the pandemic was the most dramatic and disruptive health event many of us have ever experienced. The drive for better health and biotechnology advancement also inspired some significant investments within our Shovel Award-winning states. Some of these deals related directly to the pandemic response, but many involved other areas of biotech and life sciences.
North Carolina, for example, will welcome 878 life sciences testing jobs from BioAgilytix Labs in Durham, plus 500 jobs at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Greenville, 462 Eli Lilly & Co. pharmaceutical jobs in Durham, and 209 jobs in gene therapy at Audentes Therapeutics in Sanford (now known as Astellas Gene Therapies). Thermo Fisher Scientific also announced an expansion in Lenexa, Kansas, worth about 300 new jobs related to COVID testing, and the company pledged 250 jobs through an expansion in St. Louis, Missouri.
Lots of pharmaceutical headlines also promised jobs in South Carolina last year. Examples included Vigilent Labs in Charleston County, creating more than 400 new jobs at a COVID- 19 test manufacturing facility; Nephron Pharmaceuticals in Lexington County, expanding by 380 jobs; and Santa Cruz Nutritionals, expanding in Sumter County and creating 164 new jobs. Another pandemic-linked announcement was in Auburn, Alabama, where SiO2 Materials Science said it would spend $163 million expanding its facility, thanks to a federal contract for making COVID vaccine vials.
Pfizer continues to add to its footprint in Tampa, in Silver Shovel winner Florida. Its 2020 expansion announcement will create 300 new jobs, and the company has continued to unveil new Tampa plans as 2021 has unfolded. In Columbus, Ohio, Andelyn Biosciences announced plans for 170 jobs related to gene therapy contract development and manufacturing. Next door in Indiana, Elanco decided to move its global headquarters to downtown Indianapolis, a move that could create some 570 jobs.
Connecticut had plenty of healthy announcements, too. Examples included SCA Pharmaceuticals, expanding its Windsor production of compounded pharmaceuticals and adding 360 jobs; Sema4 in Stamford adding 300 jobs at a state-of-the-art clinical lab; and Putnam Plastics, which makes medical tubing and said it will expand in Killingly and add 250 jobs. SCA Pharma also pledged 175 jobs through an expansion in Little Rock, Arkansas.
And in Tennessee, local officials were smiling with the announcement from Smile Direct Club. The maker of teeth-straightening products is adding a new manufacturing facility in the community of Columbia, worth more than 600 jobs.
Top Fulfillment Center Projects*
Urban Outfitters, Inc.
Kansas City, KS
Dorchester County, SC
Marion County, FL
York County, SC
*In terms of jobs + investment, excluding Amazon
Logistics Growth The many Amazon projects spotlighted above provide a fine example of the economic power of logistics, especially in a pandemic time when more and more people want things delivered right to their door. And there were even more Amazon deals across the country that were just a bit smaller than the big-job deals listed above, including three in separate Kansas locations that together add up to a potential 1,650 jobs. But Amazon was far from the only player making big headlines in logistics, warehousing, and distribution last year — there was plenty of growth promised across the sector.
In Florida, logistics and distribution jobs grew by the hundreds. For example, hundreds of jobs were announced in support of Dollar Tree in Marion County. The first 200 jobs would be connected to a 500,000-square-foot new distribution facility, while a second phase could add another million or more square feet and 500 more jobs. Some 300 more are expected as part of a $342 million expansion by United Parcel Service in Jacksonville.
Next door in Georgia, fast-growing meal kit maker HelloFresh announced 750 jobs in Newnan, launching its first distribution facility in the Southeast — the company sells easy-to-make meals by the millions across North America, Europe, and Asia. Meanwhile, the clothing reseller ThredUp said it would expand its distribution operation in Duluth by 700 jobs, with a facility ranking as the company’s largest of five distribution centers.
Over in South Carolina, another 700 jobs were tied to an expansion in the Ross Stores warehousing and distribution operation in York County. The off-price apparel and home fashions retailer said it would invest $68 million and add the jobs over the next few years.
Retailing giant Kroger, meanwhile, picked the Michigan community of Romulus in Wayne County for a high-tech, automated fulfillment center that’ll cost $95 million and create more than 250 jobs. Competitor Meijer plans an expansion of its supply chain facility in Tipp City, Ohio, a $160 million project that could add more than 100 jobs. And another competitor, Aldi, has picked the Alabama community of Loxley in Baldwin County for a 200-job, $100 million distribution center and regional headquarters operation. The new center will allow Aldi to open some three dozen new stores in the Gulf Coast area.
Misfits Market also distributes food, but through a direct-to-consumer subscription model. The company announced a 200,000-square-foot cold storage facility in West Jordan, Utah, that is to create more than 600 jobs. And Associated Wholesale Grocers announced plans to build a $300 million distribution hub in Hernando, Mississippi.
UPS made headlines in Ohio, where it will move into a North Baltimore/Henry Township facility and create 606 logistics and distribution jobs, and in Alamance County, North Carolina, where a $262 million warehousing and distribution facility will create 451 jobs. And third-party logistics provider DHL will invest $72 million in a distribution center that will add 577 jobs in Stafford County, Virginia.
In Missouri, not far from the 1,200 Chewy distribution jobs mentioned above in Belton, BoxyCharm announced its own 250-job logistics and distribution facility. The company is a leader in the beauty subscription box business, and its Kansas City-area project is a 575,000-square-foot e-commerce operation. And Melaleuca, maker of health and wellness products, said it would expand its distribution operations in the Kansas City area with a half million-square-foot facility worth about 200 jobs.
In Greenwood, Indiana, a warehouse and service hub was announced by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., with more than 480 jobs on the line. Indiana is always active in the logistics sector, and NewCold picked Indiana for one of the largest cold storage facilities in the country. The $152 million facility just north of Indianapolis is expected to create about 200 jobs and hold more than 100,000 pallet positions for refrigerated products. Another big cold-storage facility was announced at the Pocatello Regional Airport in Idaho, courtesy of Frigitek Industrial Parks.
Manufacturing Big Headlines Pandemic or not, there was still plenty of demand for manufactured goods. Alabama was a big beneficiary, named a Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner. Just a few examples of the activity there included 300 new textile jobs in Selma at contract sheeting manufacturer HomTex, 275 aerospace jobs through expansion at the Airbus aircraft facility in Mobile, and 279 auto jobs at DURA Automotive Systems, which broke ground in Muscle Shoals last August on a state-of-the-art facility that will make lightweight structures for such things as electric vehicle battery systems. The Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant in Huntsville, meanwhile, landed an additional $830 million investment to beef up its cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and provide enhanced training for up to 4,000 employees. The state also saw major expansion announcements such as a $775 million steel slab production facility at AM/NS Calvert, a joint venture involving ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel. More Alabama jobs are promised involving wood products at Pinnacle Renewable Energy in Demopolis and farm products at Coastal Growers in Atmore.
Another Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner was Michigan, with a host of headlines related to its automotive sector, including opportunities linked to the growth of interest in electric vehicles. For example, Magna Electric Vehicle Structures announced 304 jobs in St. Clair, where the company will build complex battery enclosures for the GMC Hummer electric vehicle. Dakkota Integrated Systems plans for a 400-job facility in Detroit, Wayne County, supplying various assemblies for Jeep products. From Wayne County’s Highland Park came a 480-job expansion announcement from Magna Seating of America, and there is to be a 225-job expansion at Detroit Manufacturing Systems. There also was news of an expansion at automotive seat-maker Bridgewater Interiors that will create 400 jobs and at the Paslin Co., where 200 new jobs are linked to a deal to supply parts for electric vehicle maker Rivian.
Just to the south in Manufacturing Gold Shovel winner Indiana, the automotive sector was busy, too. Electric Last Mile Solutions made a 960-job announcement in Mishawaka. It’s a startup electric vehicle maker, which plans to take over the old AM General plant where Hummers were produced; the vehicle it plans is an urban delivery van. Meanwhile, Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette said its assembly operation would grow by 350 jobs through an expansion that will add a service parts facility and transmission assembly shop.
General Motors’ big move into electric vehicles will mean an investment of nearly $2 billion in its plant at Spring Hill, Tennessee. It’ll be the automaker’s third facility making EVs. In Mississippi, Navistar Defense will create 500 jobs in an expansion of a military vehicle operation in West Point. Navistar International Corp. broke ground in San Antonio, Texas, on a manufacturing facility supporting its commercial truck and bus business that will employ some 600 people. And in Georgia, Hyundai Transys announced an expansion worth $240 million and 678 jobs.Florida continued to grow its aerospace and defense sector in 2020, where a 334-job Boeing expansion in Jacksonville aims to grow its maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations. And in North Carolina, engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s $650 million Asheville plant announcement carried an 800-job plan. Looking to the West, Gilbert, Arizona, welcomed the news of expansion at Northrop Grumman’s satellite engineering and manufacturing facility, which will employ more than 270 people.
The pandemic created a real run on sanitizing wipes, and that was good news for manufacturer Nice-Pak in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It announced plans for an expansion worth 300 jobs. Kimberly-Clark, which makes other kinds of sanitary products such as Huggies and Kleenex, said it would invest $140 million to expand in Corinth, Mississippi.
Louisiana enjoyed diverse economic development announcements, but its chemical and petroleum sector played a key role. Beyond the aforementioned Grön Fuels, there is a potential billion-dollar Mitsubishi Chemical announcement in Ascension Parish that may be worth 125 jobs — the company has begun feasibility studies for a methyl methacrylate manufacturing complex. An $825 million expansion at REG Geismar in the same area will create 60 jobs, as the company ups its capacity for producing renewable diesel. There also was word of a quarter-billion investment by ExxonMobil in its Baton Rouge refinery. Over in Texas, Max Midstream announced a billion-dollar, 474-job pipeline project in Point Comfort.
And Virginia’s job activity was diverse, too, including 350 jobs in self-driving vehicle software development at a TORC Robotics expansion in Montgomery County, and 332 jobs in ship repair and manufacturing at East Coast Repair and Fabrication’s new corporate and industrial campus in Newport News. Shipbuilding is also expected to create 200 jobs in Gulfport, Mississippi, where Gulf Ship landed a contract to make tugboats.
Tasty Deals People have to eat, pandemic or not, and that helped earn Idaho a Silver Shovel. The state offered a long list of developments in the business of meat and food processing, led by a 520-job deal involving True West Beef in Jerome. The company is a partnership between Agri Beef Co. and a group of cattle ranchers and feeders, and it announced plans to build a 500-head-a-day beef plant. Lamb Weston said it would expand potato processing in Power County, thanks to healthy demand for French fries. Lactalis makes cheese in Nampa, Canyon County, and plans to hire more people to make more cheese, and GoGo squeeZ announced new jobs in Nampa. And Barley processor Scoular is investing $20 million in operations in Jerome that will make a high-protein barley concentrate for pet food and aquaculture feed, as well as a liquid feed supplement for cattle.
In Indiana, Gruma Corp. announced plans to make Mission tortillas in Plainfield, with 544 hires planned. Hershey announced a sweet expansion worth 110 jobs in Augusta County, Virginia, where Reese’s and other favorites come off the line, and the company is planning its Hershey Peanut Roasting Center of Excellence. Longtime Indiana snack-food maker Pretzels LLC pledged 281 jobs in Lawrence, Kansas, while Schwan’s said it would expand its pizza plant in Salina, Kansas, and add 225 jobs to what the company believes is the largest pizza production facility in the world.People have to drink, as well. The boom in energy drinks drove a 600-job new facility from sports beverage maker Bang Energy in Douglasville, Georgia, plus a 65-job Red Bull expansion in Glendale, Arizona. Mark Anthony Brewing, meanwhile, will hire 300 people to make White Claw Hard Seltzer, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and other tasty adult beverages in Richland County, South Carolina.
Our pets also have to eat, and they’re eating better than ever these days. That helped drive the 427-job, $265 million announcement by refrigerated dog and cat food maker Freshpet for a new manufacturing facility in Ennis, Texas. A PetIQ headquarters project in Eagle, Idaho, will create 171 jobs. Pet nutrition was also behind multiple announcements from Nestlé Purina PetCare, including a $450 million factory that will create 300 jobs in Eden, North Carolina; a $550 million expansion that will create 130 jobs making Fancy Feast in Hartwell, Georgia; and a new $550 million factory in Williamsburg Township, Ohio, that will create 300 jobs making Purina dry dog and cat food. And for when those cats are done eating…Nestlé Purina PetCare said it would expand its Tidy Cat factory in Bloomfield, Missouri.
Financial Services and Other Lucrative News Florida continued to build its financial services sector in 2020 with a couple of significant announcements. A Citigroup announcement in Tampa is worth more than $65 million and 732 new jobs. And a PennyMac Loan Services expansion in Hillsborough will be responsible for 400 new jobs.
Georgia’s financial tech sector landed a 709-job announcement from Deluxe Corp. in Sandy Springs. The location will help businesses process transactions. In Ohio, Union Home Mortgage will expand its corporate headquarters in Strongsville, where 450 new jobs will be created. Utah’s Health Equity, which manages health savings accounts, announced expansion plans for Draper worth 550 jobs.
Virginia continues to make a name for itself in customer support, with a new SimpliSafe operation planning 572 hires at a Henrico County call center, and a T-Mobile expansion and relocation adding 500 more customer support jobs not far away.
A crowd gathered today (June 17) for a groundbreaking for RV supplier WAY’s new 800,000-square-foot facility. (Photo credit: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness)
Leading RV supplier and distributor WAY broke ground today (June 17) on what will become, at 800,000 square feet, one of the largest buildings ever constructed in Elkhart County, Ind., where the company will combine all of its operations under one roof.
“It’s kind of a landmark of 35 years,” said Wayne Kaylor, WAY CEO. “Very exciting for WAY as a company, and a stepping stone for the next great things that we’ll be bringing to market. It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and we’re very excited for today.”
Completion of the building, at 22244 Innovation Drive, Elkhart, is expected by the third quarter of 2022. The location is just north of I-80 and just west of Elkhart County Road 17.
Wayne Kaylor, WAY CEO, addresses those assembled for the ground breaking. (Photo credit: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness.
Founded in 2009 by Kaylor and the late Jim Conway as Way Interglobal LLC, recently rebranded “WAY” has grown into a soup-to-nuts supplier to RV-industry OEMs with product offerings including kitchen appliances, griddles and grills, coolers, fireplaces, furniture, ceiling fans, lighting, televisions, entertainment systems, solar panels, power stations, levels and jacks, tire carriers, sinks, showers, air conditioners, ducts and more.
During the ground breaking, Kaylor expressed gratitude to all those who attended the event to commemorate “this brick-and-mortar milestone.”
“We’ve been busy planning for the future and today begins the realization of that process,” he said. “I would like to thank the WAY team first and foremost for all the hard work they put in day in and day out in the office, warehouse and on the road to our customers. I would like to thank our customers for the commitment they show to WAY and our business partners that made this event possible.”
He also thanked the dignitaries and government officials in attendance for their support of the project, along with Nuway construction for its role in making the project a reality.
“I think back to when we began WAY in 2009 and how far we have come. We started with the mindset we could serve a growing RV industry, helping manufacturers provide high-quality products, and we built on this ever since,” Kaylor said. “My team and I strongly believe in the RV family lifestyle and the great benefits it provides. Through our persistence and dedication, we find ourselves on the brink of something very special.”
He said the event confirms the notion that WAY is here to stay, and that it has been growing rapidly by expanding product lines and adding great people to its team.
The next step, he said, is building the kind of space that will allow WAY to continue expanding its industry footprint.
“Our new headquarters is a commitment to our customers, but also to the region where many of us live and work,” he said. “We’re proud to call Elkhart County home and will long do this into the future.”
In addition to two locations in China, WAY currently operates two facilities in Elkhart and two in Niles, Mich., for a current total of 400,000 square feet. The new facility will double WAY’s existing capacity.
The expansion was driven by growth, and Kaylor said today WAY plans to expand its workforce by more than 30% in the next few years. That growth not only benefits WAY, he said, but also the Elkhart County region by providing more opportunities.
Shown (L to R) breaking ground for the new WAY building north of I-80 and west of Elkhart County Road 17 are: Chris Stager, president and CEO, Elkhart County Economic Development Commission; Corinne Straight-Reed, director of communications, Elkhart Mayor Rob Roberson; Doug Miller, District 48 Indiana State Rep.; Fred Ramser, account executive, Nuway Construction; Wayne Kaylor, CEO, WAY; Andy Nesbitt, president, Nuway Construction; Zachery Potts, district director for U.S. congresswoman Jackie Walorski; David Behr, director, north central region of the Indiana Economic Development Commission; and Levon Johnson, president, Elkhart County Chamber of Commerce. (Photo: Gary Gerard/RVBusiness)
“While today is the beginning of this exciting journey, we laid the foundation for this day long before the shovels ever broke the ground,” he said.
“I am absolutely excited about this project,” said Levon Johnson, president of the greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “The city is excited about it. The opportunities that arise here and the investment by WAY into this area is absolutely appreciated. We will do anything that we can do at the Chamber to help continue the growth that WAY is committing to, especially as we think about the people who will be working in this state-of-the-art facility.”
Andy Nesbitt, president of Nuway Construction, characterized the project as “huge” for his company. “It’s one of the biggest buildings ever built in Elkhart County under one building permit. It’s 18.6 acres under one roof. It’s just a really big building and a good project,” he said.
Fred Ramser, Nuway Construction account executive, said he has been working with WAY for the past five or six years on various projects before getting to this point. “It’s exciting to see businesses grow. That’s what we like to do at Nuway, help our customers get to the next level,” he said. “And it’s a big project. It’s the biggest project Nuway has done, square-foot wise. It’s a fun challenge to build something this big,” he said.
Others of note in attendance included:
Chris Stager, president and CEO, Elkhart County Economic Development Commission
Corinne Straight-Reed, director of communications, Elkhart Mayor Rob Roberson
Rob Roberson, Elkhart mayor
Doug Miller, District 48 Indiana State Representative
Zachery Potts, district director, U.S. congresswoman Jackie Walorski
David Behr, director, north central region of the Indiana Economic Development Commission
Rebecca Rea, business development, Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce
Miller Poultry announced their Outstanding Service Award recipient is Goshen resident, Linda Kauffman. Linda has been an employee for Miller Poultry for over 15 years. Not only has Linda witnessed the growth of Miller Poultry over the years, but she has been a huge part of it, and has been involved in the process of hiring many of our best and brightest team members – back when Linda first started, Miller Poultry only had around 250 employees, and has since grown to almost 1,000 today.
While Linda’s title is Executive Assistant Office Manager, she wears many “hats” at Miller Poultry. Linda oversees Miller Poultry’s office in Goshen and ensures everything is always running smoothly. A crucial part of her role is managing the accounting functions involved with our live operations team, and she continues to be a huge asset to the overall success of Miller Poultry on-farm operations.
Linda was selected for this award because she is very detail oriented, and always goes above and beyond in everything that she does. Many that meet Linda would describe her as an absolute pleasure to work with, always eager to help every single person with any task that is needed with ease and grace. In her spare time, Linda enjoys reading, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Linda was selected for this award because she is very detail oriented, and always goes above and beyond in everything that she does. Many that meet Linda would describe her as an absolute pleasure to work with, always eager to help every single person with any task that is needed with ease and grace. In her spare time, Linda enjoys reading, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
About the award
The Len Neeb Outstanding Service Award was established in 2016 and comes with a great honor. Named after the late Len Neeb, this award recognizes employees that embody Len’s effortless work ethic, belief in quality, dedication, and caring spirit. Len’s leadership stemmed from his attention to detail, he knew everyone by name, and made them feel like they were not just an employee but were part of something bigger – a family working toward a common goal. He took pride in all his work, and was committed to serving the company, community and helping others every day. He truly left his mark at Miller Poultry.
About Miller Poultry
Miller Poultry is a local, family-owned and operated company. They work with over 100 local farmers across Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan to produce naturally grown poultry in an ethical and efficient manner for consumers who appreciate wholesome, great-tasting food.
Steel wheel and rim manufacturer Dexstar Wheel, a division of global tire manufacturing leader Kenda, was recently offered up to $590,000 in tax credits through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit program for its ongoing and planned future expansion project that will take place at the Dexstar facility in Elkhart, Ind., fueling growth and bringing new jobs to the region.
“Dexstar is thrilled to be expanding our commitment to the Elkhart community and our employees,” Bill Blumka, Dexstar Wheel general manager, stated in a release. “This investment serves to allow Dexstar to build upon our position as a premier provider of high-quality wheels to the RV industry in Northern Indiana as well as the many other segments we serve. We are very appreciative of the support from the IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corp.) to our investment and helping Dexstar further its commitment to the Elkhart community, our employees and the many customers we serve. Additionally, I would like to thank Dexstar Manager Matt Wilkinson for his outstanding leadership in bringing this initiative to fruition.”
To support its growth, Dexstar Wheel is committed to hiring up to 60 new full-time employees. The increased staffing is in addition to Dexstar’s current 80 employees. The existing and newly created production and support staff jobs are high-paying, with expected average hourly rates between $20-22. This expansion is anticipated to be fully in place by 2023.
“With the state’s business-friendly environment, skilled workforce and strong manufacturing sector, Indiana offers companies like Dexstar Wheel the perfect location to expand their operations,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We’re excited Dexstar Wheel is choosing to fuel its growth in Elkhart, increasing its manufacturing footprint and creating quality career opportunities for Hoosiers in north-central Indiana.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Dexstar Wheel up to $590,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired.
About Dexstar Wheel Dexstar Wheel, a division of global tire manufacturing leader Kenda, is its North American steel rim and wheel manufacturer serving some of the largest original equipment manufacturers and distributors in the trailer and RV industries in the world. ISO certified, Dexstar is distinguished by a long history of quality, unsurpassed service and high capacity automated state-of-art operations. At the core of its reputational and manufacturing excellence are strong engineering and technical capabilities – automation and robotics strengths along with the use of the highest quality materials to produce products superior in the industry. In Elkhart, IN, Dexstar is committed to doing the right thing the first time every time – a philosophy of continuous improvement delivered by quality people to exceed customers’ expectations. www.dexstarwheel.com
About Kenda Founded in 1962, Kenda is a global leader in tire development and manufacturing. With over 12,000 employees and factories worldwide, Kenda continues to expand product offerings in the automotive, bicycle, powersports, trailer/specialty, and wheelchair markets. Kenda takes pride in operating under the core values of honesty, innovation, quality, and customer service to provide the highest level of products and services to customers across the globe. For more information, please visit www.kendatire.com
“RVB’s Top 10 RVs of the Year” is a new feature generated this year by the staff and contributors of RVBusiness magazine, the Elkhart, Ind.-based trade journal that in recent years had dedicated the spine of its Nov/Dec issue’s coverage to one “RV of the Year” and four finalists along with a series of “Top Debuts.”
Because key trade/consumer events like September’s Hershey Show and Elkhart RV Open House weren’t held this year due to pandemic circumstances, however, our editorial crew was unable to review units as closely as we’d like in order to make a finite decision regarding one new model above all of the others.
So, our response, based in part on a pretty exhaustive canvas of new models on display at private dealer shows around Elkhart’s RV-building zone this fall, is to highlight – in no particular order – “RVB’s Top 10 RVs of the Year” along with 25 “Top Debuts” and another 33 “Must-See” models in an effort to recognize those manufacturers that are truly pushing the envelope with regard to the latest technological, engineering and design trends.
At the same time, for the second issue in a row, we’ll be digitally promoting this product-rich section to a vast consumer audience of more than four million people across 30 different RV-focused websites operated by the RV Life Network, a 15-year-old, Texas-based, digital media firm.
So, congratulations to the winners – but also to an industry that, once again, has not only proven its resilience but, from all appearances, soared to new heights.