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Manufacturers invest almost $60 million in state.

ABOUT 295 JOBS WILL BE created in the state and almost $60 million invested by new and expanding manufacturers, according to announcements already made this year by the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.

The largest creation of jobs announced this year will be at Glenwood, where Aalfs Manufacturing Corp. has begun a 22,500-SF apparel manufacturing plant.

About 125 people will be employed when it is completed later this year.

"Having Aalfs come to Glenwood is the biggest news we've had in a long time," Glenwood Mayor Reggie Jones says. "We've not had a major industrial announcement in Glenwood since Georgia-Pacific in 1973. I think it says a lot for a town of 1,400 that can work together and bring in an operation like Aalfs."

Aalfs Manufacturing is a Sioux City, Iowa, firm which makes denim apparel for companies such as J.C. Penney Co., Levi Strauss & Co. and The Gap Inc.

Georgia-Pacific Corp. is making the largest manufacturing investment, $37 million, for an expansion of its plant at Crossett. No new jobs will be created.

Here is a look at some of Arkansas' other major new and expanded facilities:

The Team Concept

National Garment Co., a manufacturer of children's outer wear for nationwide retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., held a grand opening last month for its new plant in Russellville.

The 60,000-SF plant employs 110 people, according to plant manager Jim Rice. When it reaches full capacity, National Garment plans to employ 400 at Russellville, says Bob Rothbarth, president of National Garment.

"Our plan is to double in size over the next two to three years," Rothbarth says.

He added that National Garment's companywide employment and production levels have more than tripled in the past five years within existing facilities.

National Garment, which began operations last October in Russellville, uses the "cellular" or team concept of manufacturing in all of its plants. Cellular manufacturing means that garments are handled from start to finish by a team of employees throughout its entire operation.

National Garment has more than 1,200 employees at plants in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

'De Facto State'

Aero Tech United Corp. and TK International Inc., two subsidiaries of the Tulsa, Okla.-based NORDAM Group, is nearing completion of a $5 million, state-of-the-art jet turbine engine parts plant in Springdale.

The complex will employ about 100 people when its third and final stage is opened next month.

TKI has a plant in Tulsa. But the long-term plan is to consolidate TKI with Aero Tech in the new Springdale complex, according to Steve Pack, general manager for Aero Tech.

"Both ATU and TKI have outgrown their current facilities, in the sense that these structures are not laid out in a way that can accommodate the new generation of equipment we will require," Pack says.

One reason Springdale was chosen, Pack says, is because of plans for a major new regional airport in the area.

"We think that eventually northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas will become a de facto state and we want to hold a balanced position in both areas," Pack says.

Superior Expansion

Superior Industries International Inc. announced late last year it will invest more than $30 million to expand its Fayetteville aluminum wheel manufacturing plant by 285,000 SF.

More than 300 new jobs will be created when the plant is completed in the fall.

With the expansion, the plant's capacity will be 2.7 million wheels annually, more than doubling the current capacity of 1.2 million wheels.

Superior Industries, based in Van Nuys, Calif., supplies cast aluminum wheels for Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and several Japanese automobile manufacturers.

$5 Million Maumelle Investment

Plastic Ingenuity, a Cross Plains, Wis., company, will invest $5 million on a 30,000-SF manufacturing plant in Maumelle.

The plant will employ 40 people when it opens later this year.

Plastic Ingenuity manufactures the plastic tubs that Kimberly-Clark Corp. uses for its Huggies Baby Wipes. Kimberly-Clark's plant in Maumelle produces the baby wipes.

Hot Springs Lands Delta

Delta Plastics Inc. held ground-breaking ceremonies early this month for its new plastic-injection molding facility at Mid-America Park in Hot Springs.

The $3 million plant will open this summer and employ 70 people within three years. Delta Plastics manufactures plastic containers for cosmetic and hair-care products.

"We were impressed with the fact that Hot Springs and the state responded to our needs in such a professional manner," says Jan Strand, president of Delta Plastics. "Mid-America offered the type of location we were looking for, and the high quality of life in Hot Springs caused us to become even more interested."

Instrument Case Makers

Weick Custom Cases Inc., a Chicago-based manufacturer of musical instrument cases and wooden carrying cases, plans to open a 15,000-SF plant in Pocahontas in July.

Weick, the country's exclusive manufacturer of handbell cases, will move its production facilities from Chicago to Pocahontas. The AIDC is assisting the company with an Economic Development Set-Aside Loan.

The facility will employ 16 people, a slight improvement for Randolph County's unemployment rate, 12.5 percent in December. Weick is investing $300,000 in the plant.

"Weick will find that the local labor pool is full of hard-working people who want to do a good job," says Dave Harrington, executive director of the AIDC.

Steel Town

Friedman Industry Inc., a Houston steel processor, will invest $1.5 million to construct a processing center near Blytheville in the Hickman area.

Construction should begin this summer at a 20-acre site near Nucor-Yamato Steel Co.'s plant in Hickman.

Initially, the Friedman facility will employ 10, but it could be expanded as operations require, according to Harold Friedman, president of the company.

Nucor-Yamato will supply Friedman with the steel for processing.

Fayetteville Relocation

Engineering Resources Inc., a bio-technology research and development company, is relocating to a 10-acre site in the Fayetteville Industrial Park this year.

The new facilities include a 13,000-SF office and laboratory and a 1,600-SF pilot plant. Engineering Resources primarily develops biochemical engineering processes to produce valuable products from environmental pollutants.

ERI focuses on the conversion of industrial waste gases and synthesis gases from waste products into fuels, commodity chemicals or feeds.

The firm, which has been in the University of Arkansas Business Incubator program, should double its staff to 50 scientists within two years.

New Wrinkle at Levi

Levi Strauss & Co., based in San Francisco, will upgrade its Little Rock customer service center with state-of-the-art equipment.

It is part of Levi Strauss' nationwide $300 million, three-year program to regionalize the company's U.S. distribution system.

Each Levi Strauss brand segment currently is assigned to a specific customer service center, often resulting in products made in one plant being shipped to a customer service center farthest from the plant and retailers.

Dennis Jenkins, Little Rock customer service center manager, says the facility, which employs 350, will continue its normal operations while receiving the equipment.
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Title Annotation:Industry Report; Arkansas manufacturing industry
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Apr 12, 1993
Words:1154
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