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On the front burner.

Growing Cookware Manufacturer Celebrates $5.7 Million Investment

JACKSONVILLE ISN'T KNOWN as the cookware capital of America, but the growth of a local plant may change that.

Jacksonville Manufacturing Co. at 1100 Redmond Road employs more than 630 workers producing aluminum cookware. The company has undergone four expansions since 1991 and has become the city's largest private employer.

Accompanying this growth is $5.7 million worth of capital improvements in equipment and expansions. New building projects at the company's 67-acre plant site have tripled the size of facilities during the past 2 1/2 years. These include:

* March 1991,116,00-SF addition.

* January 1992,50,000-SFwarehouse.

* November 1992, 60,000-SF addition.

* January 1993, another 60,000-SF addition.

Today, operations under roof total 577,228 SF, where two production shifts typically work five days a week.

"The success of the plant is that we have gone through a lot of hard times and still remained successful," says Hank Craig, vice president and general manager.

"|But~ the real success is the people and what they carry between their ears. Jacksonville has been wonderful to us."

Jacksonville Manufacturing is a subsidiary of Regal Ware Inc., which employs 2,000 workers throughout its operational network. The corporation is headquartered in Kewaskum, Wis., which is also home to its flagship manufacturing facility.

Outside the United States, Regal Ware operates plants in Canada (Orangeville, Ontario), South America (Bogota, Colombia, and Caracas, Venezuela) and Europe (Birmingham, England).

Regal Ware touts itself as the largest privately held cookware manufacturer in North America.

The corporation bought the Jacksonville plant in October 1984 as part of its Club Products Co. acquisition. At the time, 300 employees produced cast aluminum cookware exclusively at the 175,000-SF Jacksonville plant.

Production has expanded to include the largest assortment of drawn aluminum cookware in the industry, according to the company.

The company produces lines of cookware under several trademarks including Regal, Poly Perk, Kitchen Pro, LaMachine, Club, Kitchen Fair, Pro Cuisine and Swan.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Stores and other mass merchandisers are among Regal Ware's clientele list.


The Jacksonville plant will integrate the concept of customer-driven transformation into its operations. Officials expect to begin the process later this year.

The process will alter the basic way of doing business in the plant and involve all employees.

This concept embodies a lot of the manufacturing buzzwords like just-in-time delivery, cellular manufacturing and employee empowerment, and even goes a couple of steps beyond.

"We expect it to help us fight off foreign competition and ensure profitability and our future competitiveness, both domestically and internationally," Craig says.

The corporation already is using joint ventures to make inroads in overseas markets. Medina Regal in Bogota, Colombia, and Regal International of Venezuela are two such arrangements.

Regal Japan Co. Ltd. and Regal Ware Korea Co. Ltd. are marketing, warehousing and distributing joint ventures to move the product in Japan and South Korea.
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Title Annotation:Across Arkansas: Central; Jacksonville Manufacturing Co. expands
Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 4, 1993
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