Marshalltown Company eyes major expansion in Fayetteville

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 870 views 

Tool maker Marshalltown Company continues to invest in its growing manufacturing centers in Fayetteville. Jack Murders, vice president of the company’s Arkansas operations, told The City Wire that a 50,000 square-foot addition to its Industrial Drive facility will be presented to the city’s planning and development committee on Feb. 11. 

Murders said the improving construction industry has created more new products, processes and business for Iowa-based Marshalltown which is why the additional space is needed. The local plants make between 3,000 and 4,000 different tools and machinery used in construction. 

He did not provide any financial parameters for the proposed plant expansion. Murders said the large plant on Industrial Drive has had no major renovations or expansion in the past 20 years. But, if all goes as expected the company plans to break ground on the large-scale expansion sometime in late April. He said some of that space will be used for warehousing inventory and additional office space.

“I can’t tell you we will have X new employees on the date the expansion opens but I can say we are continuing to add to our workforce as we find qualified applicants because business is good,” Murders said. “Both of our Fayetteville facilities are running multiple shifts.” 

ABSORBING MANUFACTURING JOBS
State Chamber of Commerce records indicate that Marshalltown Company employs between 200 and 299 workers at its two Fayetteville locations. Murders declined to give the exact number. He did confirm that Marshalltown was able to absorb some of the displaced workers from the shuttered Superior Industries plant in Rogers.

 

Chung Tan, director of economic development in Fayetteville, said Air Filter and Marshalltown Tools are actively hiring displaced Superior workers because the Superior plant in Fayetteville could not absorb the losses on its own.

“I have heard from some who actually moved into higher paying jobs with other local companies and there are some taking advantage of the governor’s workforce retraining opportunity,” Tan said.

 

Murders said there was some training needed for employees coming from Superior but it has been a smooth transition. He said finding manufacturing talent continues to be a challenge given the technical skills now needed for more automated industry.

“We have a long history of bringing in employees from other manufacturing operations that have ceased operations. … It’s not unusual for employees to ‘trickle’ in for quite a few months after their previous employer closed down,” Murders said.

Steve Clark, CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, said Marshalltown Company’s support to Fayetteville is nothing new seconding they have been adding to their local plant employment over the years. 

“They have been a pillar of our manufacturing community for three decades. We continue to see leadership from that company. They continue to pick up displaced workers because they understand that a tried and true workforce is essential for keeping manufacturing operations in this region,” Clark said.

Murders said the company is finishing a small expansion at its distribution plant on Armstrong in south Fayetteville. He said the 3,500-square-foot expansion adds 11 new shipping docks needed for the growing business.

“We have added on to the Armstrong plant three times since purchasing it 1989 and we are finishing up a parking lot now,” Murders said. 

This year marks a milestone for the tool maker as it celebrates its 125th anniversary as a tool maker founded in 1890 by brothers Jesse and Lester Williams. The company sells more than 5,000 products which are used in the construction industry and by do-it-yourself home improvement enthusiasts. 

PORT PROBLEMS, ONSHORING
Murders acknowledged that it’s a big year for the company but he also shared some of the challenges the local operations have had endured in recent months from West Coast Port delays. 

“West Coast ports are causing us a problem and have for some time. We anticipated this and have been making allowances for it. We have to carry more inventory, plan for longer lead times from three to four weeks out to eight weeks. We also shifted freight form Long Beach to Seattle/Tacoma but others have done the same thing so we are back to delays,” Murders said.

He said the delays add to operational costs and Marshalltown has not yet seen any dip in its freight surcharges as a result from lower fuel prices.

Murders also said Marshalltown, a U.S. manufacturer, has continued to bring manufacturing back stateside for many of its products that were originally made abroad.

“We started doing that long before the current fad of ‘reshoring’ came into vogue and we’ll be doing it long after the fad fades. We don’t seek out attention for reshoring, but we are primarily a U.S.-based manufacturer and we make our decisions based upon cost-effectively making premium products,” Murders said.

The company has determined that U.S. based manufacturing is increasingly cost effective. That said it continues to source some of its raw materials and finished goods from abroad where it makes sense to do so. 

“The world continually changes and Marshalltown changes with it,” Murders said.