Every company has a file labeled “eventually.” It’s the living quarters for institutional knowledge and ideas for improvement gathered along the way. When that file gets fat enough, or physical space precludes implementations, there comes a point at which it makes sense to relocate—to simply pack up the employees and move to an entirely new facility. In early December, officials for Seal-Rite Door (a subsidiary of Palmer-Donavin Manufacturing Co.) announced that their company would do just that. And in an exclusive interview with DWM, Robert Calhoun, the company’s CEO and president, says the aforementioned scenario had a lot to do with his company’s decision.

“With the Rockford facility, we’d run out of space and the ability to expand,” Calhoun says. The company, which is a fabricator of Therma-Tru brand residential entry doors, will go from approximately 70,000 to 105,000 square feet, with future options for expansion. In the process, “It allows us to invest in some new state-of-the-art equipment,” Calhoun adds. “Our pre-finished [doors] business continues to grow, and so this will allow us to invest in the new technology that’s available, that we think will greatly enhance our quality and our service levels as they relate to the pre-finished market.”

At the same time, Calhoun says that, in many ways, a new facility makes it easier to implement intangibles, like, “efficiencies, effectiveness, product flow and new manufacturing processes.”

Seal-Rite’s $16 million move from Rockford, Ill., to the Wisconsin Stateline Industrial Park in Beloit, Wis., lands it around 30 miles from its current location. And while it’s unclear how many will choose to make the drive, officials say that current employees are being offered the option of staying with the company.

“It’s within reach,” Calhoun says. “A good number of our people live north of the Rockford facility, so everyone that’s worked in Rockford has been offered a position in the Beloit facility. We will have to wait and see how many of those people will accept working in the Beloit area, but our sense is, right now, a majority.”

Seal-Rite currently employees around 80 people, which is roughly the number it plans to start with in its new facility. In the meantime, the company seeks to draw new employees from the area, where Calhoun says prospects are bolstered by recent closures among the automotive industries. That’s a good thing, he says, as the company could so much as double its employment numbers going forward. At least that’s what state officials are banking on. The company was awarded up to $250,000 in state tax credits, to be paid out over a three-year period, though final figures will depend on how many jobs it brings to the area. The move marks a sound investment, state officials suggest, as a total of 165 jobs are expected to generate about $1.4 million in state income tax revenue over a five-year period.

“The City of Beloit is delighted that Seal-Rite Door has chosen Beloit to be its new home base for manufacturing in the Stateline area,” says city manager Lori Curtis Luther. “Seal-Rite Door is a welcome addition to Beloit’s already strong industrial base, and we appreciate the company’s investment and commitment to creating jobs in our community.”

Just a month after its announcement, Calhoun says his company is closing in on a move-in date, with “racking” expected to begin as early as mid-December. The project is scheduled to reach full completion sometime in mid-February. Negotiations, Calhoun says, began in mid-summer.

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