Hytrol President David Peacock said Friday (May 20) that the sound of noise in a 62,000 square-foot expansion of their company’s facility in Jonesboro was a good thing, calling it the latest milestone in a journey.
Peacock was joined by at least 150 people who made the journey to the company’s location on Highland Drive to mark the expansion of a new paint system facility. Company officials announced the $12 million expansion last May and completed the project earlier this year. The company, which makes conveyors for Target, Barnes and Noble and several other companies, has been in Jonesboro since 1962.
At the time the company moved to Jonesboro, they had 26 employees. Now, they have 997 employees and are one of the largest employers in Jonesboro.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said he knew the company’s founder, Tom Loberg, for many years and that Loberg set an example for business.
“It is a longtime company with over 900 employees. They are a loving, benevolent company that gives back to its employees and to the community,” Perrin said. “As for Tom, one thing describes him. He had a sign on his desk that said, ’empathy.'”
In addition to a 567,000-square-foot facility on Highland Drive, the company has a medical clinic for employees and their families to use as well as a health club.
Arkansas Economic Development Commission Executive Director Mike Preston said the company’s ties to Jonesboro have been strong through the years.
“It is really humbling to understand the history of Hytrol,” Preston said, noting then-Arkansas Industrial Development Commission Executive Director and future Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller helped recruit Hytrol to Jonesboro from Wisconsin. “The impact on this community is amazing, especially with the payroll.”
Peacock told the group that work in the paint department can be difficult, especially when temperatures outside reach 100 degrees. The company installed a cooling system in the facility and added new equipment and plans to hire several dozen people to work in the facility.
“The expansion of our new paint system will help meet our needs as well as meet the advantages we have,” Peacock said, noting the company is also looking at the opportunity for future expansion. “We look to expand in the future. Growth is a part of our DNA.”
Preston also spoke Friday (May 20) about the recent announcement of a record low 3.9% unemployment rate in Arkansas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate was down from 4.1% in March and 5.5% in May 2015. Also, Arkansas had a record of 1,309,268 people working in April, with 29,000 people being added to the payroll, Talk Business and Politics reported earlier on Friday.
Preston said the drop is due to companies willing to invest. Locally, Preston said construction at the Big River Steel project in Osceola has helped bring jobs to the region as well as growth in the Jonesboro area.
“I have been in the state for about a year and I notice the growth in Jonesboro, every time I am here,” Preston said.