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Posted: October 31, 2013 10:00 p.m.

Valspar growing, adding jobs

Valspar’s Covington plant is getting a 30,000-square-foot expansion and expects to add 28-plus employees in the coming months as production grows.

Valspar, which makes paints and coatings for a variety of applications, is expanding its Covington plant because of growth in its functional coating markets. These coatings go on natural gas, oil and water pipelines, said Plant Manager Dale Blackwell.

Valspar plants in other locations are being consolidated as part of the shift, he said.

The Covington location added a fifth manufacturing line this year and plans to hire 10 employees by February, Blackwell said, with another 18-plus employees being hired as part of the plant’s 30,000-square foot expansion.

The Covington plant makes powder coatings, and since Valspar entered the functional coating market four years ago, the company has seen its share of that market grow, Blackwell said. The Covington plant used to produce 40 percent functional coatings and 60 percent "decorative paints" — paints supplied to manufacturers such as Caterpillar and lawnmower manufacturers John Deere, MTD, Toro and others. The production now is about 70 percent functional coating.

Blackwell said functional coating is a tough market to break into; it’s a contract business, he said.

"You have to provide quality service to customers and offer the ultimate product, and that’s what we’ve done," he said.

He said Valspar revamped its formulations and participated in Lean Six Sigma programs to eliminate waste and streamline manufacturing activities.

"We’re continuing to grow; it’s a cyclical market, but we’ve entered and we’ve gained a significant market share," he said.

The company ships products all over the world; its markets include Brazil, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, China and Malaysia. Valspar has contracts with Caterpillar, John Deere, Husqvarna, Whirlpool and recently added high-end Kitchen Aid mixers to its portfolio.

Valspar acquired H.B. Fuller and its Covington plant in 2006. The plant is currently 96,000 square feet, including office space, and has 70 employees.

"I’d like to make sure I mention the performance of our employees; they’re the backbone of our company.

"We wouldn’t be successful without the solid performance we get out of the employees in this area — and it supplies some great employees — which other businesses are seeing (as a) benefit to locating here," Blackwell said.

Valspar’s Covington plant is at 13129 Harland Drive N.E.. Plans for the 30,000-square-foot expansion are currently being evaluated by the city of Covington. The value of the expansion and any new equipment was not disclosed. The company previously added a third manufacturing line in 2007, a fourth line in 2010 and a fifth line in 2013, which will bring the company up to 41 million pounds of capacity.

 

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