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Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Amarr to open plant in N.C.

July 12, 2006

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Its manufacturing expansion in Lawrence now complete, Amarr Garage Doors Inc. is adding to its door-making operations by opening a new plant in its home state of North Carolina.

Amarr this week announced plans for a $10.5 million plant in Mocksville, about 20 minutes from Amarr's corporate headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C. The plant will provide Amarr products for builders, stores and suppliers on the East Coast.

The new plant likely will siphon some employees from Amarr's plant in Lawrence's East Hills Business Park, but not for long, said Kristen Krug, Amarr's people team director in Lawrence. Plans call for any employees who transfer or accept promotions to positions in North Carolina to be replaced here in Lawrence, where Amarr has 620 employees - up more than 100 from a year ago.

"It shouldn't affect employment (negatively) here at all," Krug said. "It's an addition. We'll still look at this plant here as our center of excellence."

Amarr, in fact, will be adding eight people per month, for each of the next six months, for a company call center inside the Amarr plant in Lawrence, Krug said. Workers answer calls from buyers of Amarr-made doors sold in Lowe's stores nationwide.

The plant in North Carolina will occupy an existing 108,000-square-foot building and open later this year with a team of managers and 40 production employees, Krug said. The plan is to ramp up to 143 employees in North Carolina within three years.

The new plant comes as Amarr's Lawrence operation continues to grow. The East Hills plant opened in 1989 with 120,000 square feet, and has expanded twice to reach its current coverage of 400,000 square feet.

The latest project wrapped up a year ago: $18 million to add 140,000 square feet, a production line and dozens of employees to keep up with Amarr's rising production and sales. The company just ended its fiscal year with sales of $300 million, up from $250 million a year earlier and continuing a run of at least 15 percent annual growth during the past six years, Krug said.

Delbert Phlipot, Amarr's vice president for manufacturing, said that the company essentially had run out of space for expanding at the current plant site in Lawrence. Amarr already leases another building for storage, a 67,000-square-foot "spec" building near the entrance to the business park.

But the North Carolina project isn't about the Lawrence plant's lack of expansion space. It's about expanding production capacity while cutting down on transportation costs, a major expense for a company that has risen to No. 3 in the residential garage door market.

"The high cost of fuel, gasoline, etc., that all equates into dollars," Phlipot said.

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