English firm to open label-making facility in southeast Lawrence

An England-based company that makes tough labels for tires and many other rubber products is opening a manufacturing plant in Lawrence.

Polymeric Labels of Oldham, England, has reached a deal to open a $1.5 million facility in vacant space near 31st Street and Haskell Avenue, an official at the Economic Development Corporation of Lawrence and Douglas County said Monday.

The company is expected to employ a handful of people initially but could grow to 30 or 40 employees, said Steve Kelly, vice president of economic development for the EDC and the Lawrence chamber of commerce.

“I think it will start small, but they have some impressive projections,” Kelly said.

The company is locating in the former Spirit Industries building at the southwest corner of 31st and Haskell. Kelly said the company’s U.S. plant manager is moving from England to Lawrence in the coming week and plans to begin work on setting up the plant.

The company makes labels for a variety of products that can’t use traditional stick-on labels. Tires, automotive hoses and hydraulic hoses are all big users of the company’s labeling system that stands up to wear, tear, grease and other harsh environments. Kelly said the company — which has been owned by the same family since the mid-1980s — does work with a number of companies based in the Midwest.

Kelly said Lawrence’s central location was a definite selling point for the company, but so too was its culture. He said several employees from England are expected to at least temporarily relocate to Lawrence.

“They told us that they thought Lawrence would provide an environment that people would like to live in and work in,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he expects the company to offer a range of positions common to manufacturing plants, including machine operators, maintenance workers and other such positions. Wage information for the jobs was not immediately available. The company is not seeking a tax abatement or other such incentives from the city.

Greg Marlor has been named as the manager for the plant, which will be the company’s first U.S. plant. Marlor wasn’t available for comment on Monday.

The Polymeric Labels deal marks the second new company announcement in the last two weeks. EDC officials last week announced a Chinese firm was partnering with Lawrence-based DARcorporation to open a facility that will manufacturer composite propellers for the aviation industry. Much like the label deal, that project is expected to employ about 10 people to begin with, but Kelly said the two deals are signs of a positive trend.

“The last couple of deals have both been with international companies,” Kelly said. “I think that speaks to the appeal of a place like Lawrence.”