Mullican Flooring plans to expand its Johnson City operations with an investment of $12 million over three years, the company announced Tuesday.
The hardwood floor manufacturer will move its Johnson City operations and 130 employees to a new location in the former Superior Industries building on Woodlyn Road by the first quarter of 2012; in addition, Mullican will start up a new product line in the 309,000-square-foot building that will create 164 new jobs, with about 50-55 of them by the second quarter of 2012.
By 2015, the company hopes to employ 300 people in production line, supervisory and maintenance positions at the Woodlyn Road facility.
The company’s president, Neil Poland, made the announcement at Tuesday’s Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Economic Summit along with Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty. Hagerty said the expansion demonstrates why economic development should focus on existing business; Poland recognized the state, Johnson City and Washington County officials and the Washington County Economic Development Council for work to make the expansion a reality.
The new product line will produce engineered hardwood flooring and replace a segment of the company’s engineered volume that is currently sourced in Asia.
“Therefore, we will eventually be bringing jobs to Tennessee from Asia,” Poland said. “We believe we’re on the leading edge of a trend by U.S. manufacturers shifting jobs back to U.S. soil.”
Moving the jobs back to Tennessee is a decision based on efficiency and cost, according to company officials.
Pressure on raw materials in Asia, including from natural disasters in Japan and China’s rapid growth, had bumped up costs for the company overseas, Poland said. Freight costs also were a consideration, and some of the Asian workers’ duties will be replaced with automation at the Johnson City plant, he said.
The Johnson City-based manufacturer is in a good position for this expansion because it refocused some of its efforts on its remodeling segment in 2005, which somewhat buffered the company from the recession’s full blow, Poland said.
The University Parkway building, which Poland said has about 180,000 square feet of usable space, will be put up for sale within 30 days.
The company also operates plants in Norton, Va., Ronceverte, W.Va. and Holland, N.Y., none of which will be affected by this move, according to company officials.