Chapin Manufacturing CEO says Kentucky investment continues 'expansion of organic growth'
The president and chief executive officer of Chapin International Inc. said the company is well positioned to expand its warehousing and manufacturing operations to the Kentucky city of Mount Vernon, a small municipality that is part of the Richmond-Berea micropolitan area in Rockcastle County.
“This is just a continued expansion of organic growth that Chapin has been having over the last 15 years,” Jim Campbell said on Thursday. “We have been growing at a rate of anywhere between 4 percent and 9 percent a year for the last 15 years, so things have gone well for us.”
Calling 2020 “a big year,” Campbell said Chapin will be signing documents to finalize the purchase of the 175,000-square-foot former Eagle Manufacturing facility in the Rockcastle Business Park.
The company’s investment in the Bluegrass State is pegged at $5.495 million.
Chapin International is a subsidiary of Batavia-based Chapin Manufacturing, which designs, creates and markets high-quality compressed air sprayers and hand sprayers. The company was started in 1884 in Oakfield by hardware store owner Ralph E. Chapin, who set up the manufacturing business in Batavia.
Campbell said the company “is excited to be standing up a new operation in Rockcastle County, Kentucky” and praised leaders there for acting rapidly to make the purchase possible.
“We went down there and they had the judge, which is the county executive for them (Rockcastle County Judge/Executive Howell Holbrook Jr.), and the head of their IDA along with their state legislator and one of the county people there and another person from the state – all five people could sit down at the table and you could just finish the deal there,” he said. “All the stakeholders were in one room. In New York State that never happens; you have to go through layer after layer for permission.”
He said the deal came together “quicker and better” because the county owns the building that will be used primarily for warehousing, with about 20 percent of it designated for the manufacturing of sprayers made exclusively of plastic – not the metal sprayers that are made in Batavia. A story in another local news publication erroneously reported that metal sprayers will be made at the Kentucky plant.
“All metal sprayers are made in Batavia, New York and will stay here,” Campbell said. “We will make a couple of different models in Kentucky – products that are much larger than what we mold today in Batavia. We mold up to about a four-gallon product here. Down there, we’ll mold up to a 60- or 100-gallon container.”
Campbell said Chapin Manufacturing has been looking for more warehouse space in either Tennessee or Kentucky for quite some time because the biggest concentration of its customers is in the South and Midwest. The firm also conducts business via Chapin Custom Molding in Elyria, Ohio and Chapin International in Coopersville, Mich., and Clarence, NY.
“We needed another shipping point other than New York and this facility came available to us,” he said. “This particular facility … made product out of resin, which is like what we do. And we actually bought some equipment from an automotive company in Kentucky. So, it all came together very well for us – buying equipment from one company and just moving it a couple hundred miles to put into this other facility in Kentucky.”
He said the company simply has run out of room at its plant in Batavia.
“We have no additional space. It’s 700,000 square feet here and it’s overfull,” he said. “We’ve been renting warehouse space in other states now so, really, we’d like to do away with some of that rental stuff and put it in our own facility.”
Campbell said a couple machine tools needed to produce the sprayers for customers in that part of the country will be relocated to Kentucky, which also will free up some warehouse space in the Batavia facility at 700 Ellicott St.
He also said all employees at the Kentucky building will be local residents, and anticipates a work force of 100 within three years.
Chapin’s incentive package is modest compared to some of the tax abatements approved in New York State.
“As long as I hit my employment number, they will give us a tax break of $100,000 a year for 10 years – that’s the total incentive package,” he said with a chuckle.
Requirements for the incentive to kick in reportedly are creating and maintaining 100 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years and paying an average hourly wage of $22.40, including benefits.
Campbell said the Kentucky contingent had all of the environmental aspects of the transaction in place and Chapin will be making an official announcement in the near future.
Photos: Two varieties of Chapin plastic sprayers that will be manufactured at the company's new facility in Kentucky -- a 25-gallon ATV Spreader with Variable Speed Flow Control at top and a 15-gallon 12V Deluxe Dripless EZ Mount ATV Spot Sprayer at bottom.