Chapin announces new expansion in Kentucky
Chapin International, Inc. announces its continuing growth with another expansion in Kentucky. Following the successful startup of its Mount Vernon facility, due to business volume, there became an immediate need to further expand operations in order to meet continued demand for sprayers. The State of Kentucky once again sprang into action to assist Chapin in its need for space and dedicated employees. This culminated in the purchase of 1857 S. Danville Bypass, adding an additional 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space. With this, Chapin now has more than 1.75 million square feet of production facility space in New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky combined. It will grow to have over 600 US-based employees and will be twice the size of any US-based sprayer producer and is positioned to compete with off-shore sprayer manufacturers well into the 2030s.
“As Covid continues to be an issue in the United States and the world, the increased demand for sprayers continues and the need to fight the spread is even more imperative. At the same time, people have had more opportunities to be at home and are enjoying gardening and improvement projects more than ever before. At the start of the pandemic, Chapin was at planned capacity. That was quickly overwhelmed by demand. With our recent expansion into Kentucky, we will now be able to produce over 12 million yearly sprayers in the United States as long as raw materials and labor is available,” said Jim Campbell, President.
“While adding capacity, Chapin has also expanded its capabilities and automation. Some of the new molders are larger and will allow us to produce sprayers up to 100 gallons. Chapin will expand the breadth of product for the homeowner, but also light agricultural use,” said Doug Platt, Plant Manager for Mount Vernon and the new Danville location. “The addition of five blow molding machines brings that facility up to twelve. The molders range in size from the smallest being a five-pound triple to the largest being a dual 40-pound molder. Most of those machines had been purchased from other companies. Previously tooled for automotive production, they will be rebuilt and put right into service making sprayers.”
“This new capacity will put Chapin’s capacity on par with the largest manufactures in Europe, South America, and Asia. Chapin has become the predominant US Sprayer manufacturer. We continue to lower the cost of products through mass production making us the sure thing in the North American market. Whatever category Chapin enters, the consumer wins, with higher quality and lower costs,” said Bill Campbell, Vice President of Business Development.
“When we first went to Kentucky and met with the Judge (Holbrook) and Jeff Van Hook we told them we prefer to plan conservatively and move forward as fast as possible, the 10-year employment goal for 100 new jobs in the first 5 years was met in less than 12 months from the initial meeting,” said Jim Campbell.
The incentive program approved in Kentucky today provides additional tax abatements based on a new 300-person employment goal for the combined projects. Over the next 10 years, Chapin’s investment in Kentucky will surpass $16 million dollars. In addition to the tax abatement the city of Danville, Kentucky has been a great resource.
“The people of Rockcastle and Boyle Counties are ready to work!” Campbell attributes this to the prudent state economic policies and the exceptional work ethic of the Kentucky people. This is why business is thriving in Kentucky and continues to rank highly, nationally. “We are excited to be part of the continued growth of business in Kentucky”.
Chapin International is based in Batavia, New York. The company is a leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of industry-leading high-quality compressed air sprayers used in home, garden, and commercial applications. Chapin also makes a full line of spreaders, irrigation products, and accessories. Chapin was established in 1884. The company also conducts business via Chapin Custom Molding in Elyria, Ohio, and three additional Chapin International operations in Coopersville, Michigan, Clarence, New York, and Mount Vernon, Kentucky.
Campbell: Inability to attract workers compels Chapin International to 'right size' Batavia facility's operations
“I can’t get people to work and the way the state is going, I have to right size my operation in Batavia,” Campbell (photo at right) said by telephone this morning. “We’re moving equipment out of Batavia and it’s work that we’ve done here in the past. We’ve pulled out some of that equipment and moved that to Mount Vernon.”
The Mount Vernon that he mentions is the community in Kentucky where, last October, Chapin expanded its compressed sprayer operation by purchasing the 175,000-square-foot former Eagle Manufacturing plant in the Rockcastle Business Park.
The $5.495 million investment has produced positive results in the Bluegrass State as production and warehousing capacity has increased, Campbell said, adding that the company is looking to buy another 500,000-square-foot building about 30 minutes from Mount Vernon.
“On a daily basis, without advertising, we have five or six people just come to our door wanting work. They show up and we interview them right then,” Campbell said. “We’ll be up to 100 employees in Kentucky by February or March, so we’re more than halfway there already. People there are eager to work.”
A Different Story in Batavia
The same can’t be said for what is happening in Batavia, the home base of the company that produces and ships high-quality compressed air sprayers and hand sprayers. The firm’s origin dates back to 1884 when Oakfield resident Ralph E. Chapin set up the manufacturing plant in Batavia.
“(Eight months ago) all the production that we put in Kentucky was expansion and new machines that we purchased from an automotive company and moved them into Mount Vernon. We got those up and running,” Campbell said. “But now, we’ve removed some resin blow molders out of Batavia and moved them to Mount Vernon. Two of them are in production already.”
Campbell said that despite paying prevailing wages and offering referral incentives to employees, the Chapin plant in Batavia is suffering from a shortage of workers.
“We’re 20 to 30 people short every day although the pay scales (in Batavia and Kentucky) are exactly the same -- $22 to 23 an hour – with entry level people starting around $14 to 15 an hour,” Campbell said, noting that overall, the number of employees in Batavia is down from a desired 285 to about 240.
He attributes the problem to unemployment insurance and other New York State mandates that are hampering the business community.
“The additional $300 a month that the federal government is giving (is a key factor) plus people can get health insurance free for six months,” Campbell said. “We have a great benefits package – health care, 401(k), vacation -- but entry-level people can make the same amount of money with the bonus money that the federal government is giving as coming to work, so people don’t bother. Or they’re not interested in staying. They come for a couple days and leave, and get back on unemployment.”
Extended Unemployment Hurting Business
Campbell put the blame squarely on the state Department of Labor.
“Unemployment isn’t like what it was in the old days when we thought about it. If you quit your job, you couldn’t get unemployment for six or eight weeks – or if you got fired – now they just give it to you, no matter what. Plus, the unemployment people – I hate to say it – aren’t doing their job,” he said.
“Back in the day, you had to look for work to get unemployment. You had to say, ‘I went here, I went there.’ Well, nobody does that anymore. You get whatever it is – number of months, weeks – and you’re all set.”
He said that four or five employees have taken advantage of the company’s offer to give them a $1,000 bonus by referring someone who joins the Batavia workforce and stays for 90 days, but it’s not enough.
“The situation is definitely affecting our shipments. Our people are pretty productive – the ones who are there – but we can’t build as much as we want, especially on second shift,” he said. “We’re shutting machines down every day that we have orders for. We’re a company that prides itself on shipping on time … we have a tremendous backlog now. I can’t even dig into my backlog.”
Other Factors: Sick Leave, HERO Act
Campbell also mentions the state’s new sick leave policy and the HERO (Health and Essential Rights) Act as obstacles.
“(Gov. Andrew) Cuomo’s a vindictive guy; you hate to say too much, you know, but a few months back they put in a sick leave policy where everyone gets 56 hours of paid sick leave,” he said. “We negotiate all of those things, and that will be negotiated in the next contract, of course.
“Fifty-six hours is way more than anyone ever took, but now it’s like vacation time and it’s paid 100 percent. When you’re running production lines and people don’t give any notice that they’re not coming in, it just shuts equipment down, other people don’t have work. It’s just a terrible situation.”
He called the HERO Act “a horrible thing” for companies outside of the public healthcare arena.
“We take care of sanitation and other things, but supposedly this was for permanent airborne disease – trying to stop it in the future,” he said. “We’re taking something that is applicable to hospitals and old folks’ homes and applying it to manufacturing. The thing goes into effect the first week of June and we don’t even have the laws from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) yet saying how it affects manufacturing, in general.”
Then, there is the matter of taxes.
“And now Cuomo is saying he’s going to raise the taxes on businesses in New York State. It’s getting impossible. First, we don’t have people. Wages are … we’re in an inflationary period no matter what anybody says. I don’t care what the federal government says,” he offered.
Campbell said costs of raw materials, such as high-density polyethylene, which has gone from 58 cents a pound to more than $1 a pound, are up considerably and those increases get passed on to the consumer.
More Equipment is Heading South
What all this means is that more blow molders will have to be relocated from Batavia to Kentucky, reducing the number here to about eight, Campbell said.
“In Batavia, we had 15 blow molders – some with five heads that can build five sprayer models at a time and some with two, three or single heads,” he said. “The single-headed ones, which are less efficient, I moved those to Kentucky. Then, a month ago, I moved a three-headed blow molder, and in another month, I’ll move a sister machine to Kentucky.”
For a company firmly entrenched in Genesee County for so long, the labor trend is unsettling, Campbell admitted.
“In the end, we’re a high-volume, low-margin business that makes millions and millions of sprayers per year. But they’re not big margin. You’ll see us spending a lot more money on automation,” he said. “I’ve been the president now for 17 years and I’ve never laid one person off due to automation or business reasons because we’ve grown every year.”
Until more potential workers come knocking on the door at the Chapin Manufacturing facility at 700 Ellicott St., Campbell said he has to ensure that he’s “right sizing it to the amount of people I can get.”
“This is where Chapin would like to keep the headquarters,” he said. “We’re staunch allies of Batavia and Genesee County. New York State? Not so much.”
Previously: LIVE: Interview with Bill Campbell, VP, Chapin International
Previously: Chapin Manufacturing CEO says Kentucky investment continues 'expansion of organic growth'
LIVE: Interview with Bill Campbell, VP, Chapin International
Bill Campbell is the vice president for business development for Chapin International. Chapin is a privately owned, multi-location manufacturing company that started in Oakfield more than 100 years ago and remains based in Batavia.
Campbell's job gives him not only good insights into his own industry, but the economy in general. We'll talk with him about his company, the economy, the pandemic, what business can expect from the Biden Administration, at trade issues. The livestream is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
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.
Hawley hosts assemblyman from Bronx on tour of his district, including stop at Chapin
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, a Democrat from the Bronx, joined Assemblyman Steve Hawley on a tour of Hawley's 139th District, which included a stop late in the afternoon yesterday at Chapin Manufacturing International Inc, in Batavia.
The tour started in Lyndonville and included a couple of farms in the area, continued through Medina, and then stopped at LandPro Equipment in Oakfield, Genesee Community College, and then Chapin before a visit to Batavia Downs Gamiong & Hotel before dinner at Alex's Place.
Hawley has been conducting these tours for Downstate colleagues now for a few years and they are reciprocal. Hawley will visit Benedetto's district. It's a chance, Hawley said, for representatives from two halves of the state to get to know the whole state better and the unique issues faced in different parts of the state.
At Chapin, Benedetto was given a presentation on the company by CEO Jim Campbell before a tour of the factory.
Chapin employees 300 people at its U.S. locations, which now includes a plant in Ohio. It makes sprayers and spreaders, primarily, but also has a line of bird feed made in Michigan.
Campbell described its bird feed as tasty and nutritious to help birds in the Northeast store energy to make it through winter.
One of the biggest challenges for the company right now is finding qualified workers, Campbell said.
"If you want a job in our area today, you can work, absolutely," Campbell said.
The tight labor market is requiring Chapin to change its approach to recruiting employees.
"We used to use the temp-to-permanent model but the people you have out there in temps today are not the people you’re after," Campbell said. "The people you’re after are now working for somebody else. They’re not going to leave a full-time job without a good opportunity to work for us."
Benedetto said he often hears on the floor of the Assembly that New York is not a business-friendly state. He asked Campbell if that was his experience in dealing with New York.
Campbell said if his company were to look at building a 100,000-square-foot addition to its facility it would cost in New York $7 million.
"I can build it in Ohio for $1 million," Campbell said. "It's a huge difference."
Campbell's other concern is the skyrocketing costs of New York's workers' compensation insurance, which is now the highest in the United States.
In photos below, William Kegler, director of operations, is conducting the tour.
Justice for Children will benefit from this year's Chapin Charity Golf Tournament Aug. 11 at Terry Hills
Chapin International will be hosting its 11th Annual Chapin Charity Golf Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Terry Hills Golf Course in Batavia.
Chapin has proudly selected Justice for Children as its charity to support this year. As in the past all funds collected will go directly to the charity.
Please join us this year supporting Justice for Children by a donation, sponsorship or participation. The tournament provides everyone an opportunity to contribute to this truly amazing charity.
Justice for Children was selected out of several other local charities by Chapin's Golf Committee. Many of you may not even know or have heard of Justice for Children. That is a good thing that you never have had a reason to need the services provided. The services are every discreet, provided to protect the privacy of the children in need. All services are free.
The golf tournament is modestly priced at $75 and includes 18 holes of golf with cart, lunch, and dinner. Shotgun start is at 1 p.m.
Every person will receive a prize. Opportunities will be available for chances to win a car in the Hole-in-One contest.
Three local car dealerships -- Ken Barrett, Castilone, and Toyota of Batavia -- offer cars for the contest. All participants will have two opportunities during the tournament to win.
Max Pies Furniture in Batavia will be again offering a lounge chair to the winner of the putting contest held during registration hours before the tournament starts.
Longest drive, closest to pin, and closest to the line will also be available for all during the event. Everyone at all skill levels will have a chance to win. Mulligans and Skins will be offered as well.
Please go to www.chapincharitygolf.com for registration or sponsorship opportunities.
Early registration is advised to avoid missing out, our event fills to capacity quickly.
For any questions or information contact Norm Hubbard, tournament director at [email protected] or call/text 409-7575.
About Justice for Children
The Justice for Children GLOW Foundation is honored to be the beneficiary of the 11th annual Chapin Charity Golf Tournament. The mission of the Justice for Children GLOW Foundation Inc. is to provide philanthropic support to enhance the work of the Justice for Children Advocacy Center and multidisciplinary team throughout Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming (GLOW) counties.
The support provided by Chapin will assist us in meeting our goal of ensuring that every child who comes to the Justice for Children Advocacy Center receives the care and support necessary to begin their journey toward healing.
Since opening in 1998, the Justice for Children Advocacy Center has served more than 2,500 children and their families who have been impacted by physical or sexual abuse. In 2018 alone, 287 children and their families benefitted from the services available at the Justice for Children Advocacy Center. These services include victim advocacy, forensic interviewing, mental health counseling, medical exams, and multidisciplinary case review.
The proceeds from the Charity Golf Tournament will be used to replace existing, outdated medical equipment with a state-of-the-art imaging system to be used on site at the Justice for Children Advocacy Center’s Batavia office. This equipment will improve our highly skilled medical providers’ ability to identify, diagnose, and document injuries that have been inflicted upon children who have been physically or sexually abused.
Additionally, this system will create opportunities for continuing education and peer review for our medical providers, allowing them to keep their skills sharp and up to date with current best practices. The welcome addition of this equipment will aid us in our goal of ensuring that all the children we help receive the highest quality care possible.