Last week, we officially broke ground on a building addition to our facility in Aitkin. We are doubling the size of the facility, taking it from 10,000 square feet to 20,000. When this is completed, we plan to move some projects from our Staples plant, as we need the room in Staples for new projects.
The projects that we plan to move include a line of large gate valves that we currently manufacture in Staples. We currently mold 4" through 12" gate valves in Aitkin, and 14" through 24" in Staples. These larger sizes that are manufactured in Staples require the use of overhead cranes
for material handling, and the Aitkin facility has more ceiling height than what we have in Staples. This will allow us to have a much better layout for material flow, than what the Staples facility allows. The move to Aitkin also allows the opportunity to go to even larger sizes than the 24".
The Aitkin project has taken longer to get launched that what was first expected, as we first had to buy out the lease on the building, and purchase the adjoining property,
so we could put on the size addition that made sense. The current building was built and owned by Aitkin County Growth, which was a non-profit corporation based in Aitkin, MN, that operates as a business incubator. They have a facility in town that they lease out, for very attractive rates, to entice people to open a business in Aitkin. This was very key, for us to first move to Aitkin in 1997. As we expanded and eventually outgrew the facility in town, Aitkin Growth built us a building in the Aitkin Industrial Park. We moved into this building in 2004, and signed a 15 year lease. Aitkin Growth was not interested in signing another long term lease, and build our next addition, so we purchased the facility from them, We also purchased a small parcel to the east of the building, as the building addition put the wall right on the property line.
We have hired Hammers Construction from Perham, MN for a design/ build project. A ceremonial ground breaking was held on July 19th, but the actual start of construction was Wednesday, August 24th, and the concrete was completed on Wednesday, August 31st. We expect the building to be completed in approximately 14 weeks. Keep checking back, as we post pictures of the progress!