Copeland Adding 360 Workers
by JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
in New Missouri Plant
Copeland's new facility in Lebanon will enable it to add a fourth line at its existing local plant (pictured), which opened in 1992.
LEBANON, Mo. Compressors for air-conditioners and refrigerators are what business is all about for Copeland Corp. (www.copeland-corp.com). In south-central Missouri, though, Copeland's compressors are all about expansion.
Bulking up what's already its largest global presence for scroll-compressor manufacturing, the Sidney, Ohio-based company is opening a new 360-worker facility in Lebanon, Mo. (www.lebanonmissouri.org).
A subsidiary of St. Louis-based Emerson Electric, Copeland is leasing a vacant 170,000-sq.-ft. (15,300-sq.-m.) building in Lebanon, a city of some 12,000 residents 163 miles (260 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis. And that expansion will facilitate another local expansion for the compressor manufacturer.
Copeland's newest facility will free up space to add a fourth production line inside the company's existing 800-employee Lebanon plant, which is two miles (3.2 kilometers) northeast of its new operation. Opened in 1992, Copeland's first Lebanon plant produces 2 million compressors a year for home and business air-conditioning systems. With the fourth line in place, however, the plant's annual capacity will increase to 3 million compressors.
Lebanon (pictured), already home to Copeland's largest scroll-compressor manufacturing presence, will have more than 1,150 of the company's workers after the newly announced expansion reaches full employment.
"The addition of this facility to our Lebanon manufacturing presence is very exciting for both Copeland and the city of Lebanon," Randy Rose, Copeland U.S. Scroll Operations vice president, said in announcing the expansion. "For Copeland, it signals the continued growth and acceptance of our scroll technology, which has proven reliable and efficient in more than 30 million air-conditioning systems worldwide. Locally, it's about positive economic growth for Lebanon."
Growth has been an intrinsic part of the Lebanon plant, Copeland's first exclusively dedicated to producing scroll compressors. Since opening 11 years ago, the facility has turned out 14 million units. And the plant has recorded more than 8.6 million consecutive work hours with no lost time.
"We've been an integral part of this community since we broke ground on this manufacturing plant in 1990," Rose continued. "Since that time, Lebanon has become an invaluable partner and provided us with a high-quality work force. The city has been very instrumental in our success, and this is an important way to demonstrate our continued investment and commitment to the community."
Project Marks Payoff for City's
Copeland's new plant also validates the community commitment that the Lebanon City Council made. Copeland will be locating in a city-owned facility that once housed VF Jeanswear's (www.vfc.com) 750-employee plant.
Buy of Closed VF Jeanswear Plant
VF Jeanswear announced in late 2002 that it planned to close the Lebanon facility, along with two plants in Oklahoma, two in Texas and two in Virginia. Those 3,120 employees' work has been relocated offshore.
In January 2003, the Lebanon plant shuttered its operation. By May, the City Council had decided that it had to act. It put up $1.62 million to buy VF Jeanswear's abandoned facility.
"We're very happy, because we could have been sitting on this for two or three years trying to rent it nationally," Lebanon Mayor Bob Allen (pictured) said of Copeland's move into the closed VF Jeanswear plant that the city bought.
The council's idea was to market the building nationally to attract prospects. But before kicking off its marketing campaign, the City Council tried a more direct approach: It queried local firms for any interest in the VF Jeanswear facility.
"Occasionally, the City Council meets with our industrial people here," Mayor Bob Allen explained at the project announcement at Lebanon City Hall. "At one of the meetings we had after we had purchased the property, we asked if anyone locally was interested before we started advertising nationally."
Copeland, Allen said, responded with a proposal. The company had been negotiating with the city on the deal for three months.
"We're very happy, because we could have been sitting on this for two or three years trying to rent it nationally," Allen said. "To get 360 jobs immediately, if you had to build a building, it would take about 18 months. We feel very fortunate to rent the building to Copeland. Hopefully, we will get as much as half the jobs back that we lost."
Fourth Line Will Add Two Products
Copeland will immediately begin retrofitting the Lebanon facility. The company is funding the retrofit, which will include raising the ceiling by removing VF Jeanswear's air hosing, duct work and lighting fixtures.
The company will move some of its existing distribution and inventory operations into the new building. The facility may house other functions, though, as it expands to its projected 360 employees by 2005, Copeland officials said.
Lebanon's site selection appeal gets a big boost from I-44. But its roots trace back to its position on the legendary Route 66, which still offers the likes of the Munger-Moss Motel (pictured), built in 1946.
And Copeland, the world's No. 1 compressor manufacturer, is expecting more local growth. With the fourth line, Copeland's existing facility near I-44 can add two new products, explained plant manager Scott Evans.
One of the additions will likely be an existing product: the company's energy-saving UltraTech high-efficiency compressor. The Lebanon plant already makes UltraTech, but the product's energy efficiencies have created strong demand. The other product likely to be added in Lebanon is "5G," Copeland's fifth-generation scroll compressor, which is now under development, said Evans. (Scroll compressors work with two identical spirals - one stationary, the other rotating around it - that funnel gas into ever-smaller pockets for maximal-pressure discharges.)
Copeland hasn't released projections for how many jobs might be added with the Lebanon plant's fourth line.
Lease Will Pay Off City's
Copeland's expansion doesn't involve any incentives. But the city may request funding for infrastructure improvements as the expansion progresses.
Building Buy in Six Years
"Whenever this really gets to cooking into the major job production, we will go to the various sources," Allan said. "There are programs we would like to use to upgrade the various streets and things. We can get state and federal funds to do this. At the appropriate time, when this fourth line starts up, we hope to approach those organizations and upgrade the area with what money we're able to secure."
Copeland's outlay is modest on its five-year Lebanon lease, which includes a five-year renewal option. Nonetheless, the deal will provide a payoff for the city's $1.62-million investment in the VF Jeanswear facility, Allan emphasized.
"It will bring $22,180 per month in rent into the city," he said of Copeland's lease. "If you want to look at it from a business standpoint - and we're not in the profit business - that should retire the debt in six years. Our goal here is to create jobs."
The City Council preserved another job-creating option at the onetime VF Jeanswear site. It's only leasing Copeland 17 acres (6.8 hectares) of the 22-acre (8.8- hectare) tract. It's holding back another five acres (two hectares), hoping to see it filled by another company's expansion.
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