Southworth Products Corporation, a global manufacturer of ergonomic material handling equipment, today announced it is expanding its manufacturing facility in Manila, Arkansas. The company plans to invest $935,000 in the plant where it will create approximately 35 new jobs.
“As we move into 2016, Southworth has just completed its 125th year in business and its 36th year of focusing its manufacturing operations in Manila, Arkansas,” said Southworth CEO Brian McNamara. “Since moving a couple of product lines down from the Northeast in 1979 into an existing 10,000 square foot facility, we have steadily increased our local footprint to well over 150,000 square feet and now conduct all North American production in Mississippi County, Arkansas”
The expansion is a result of an increase in demand for the company’s existing products in addition to the launch of several new products. Through the expansion, Southworth will upgrade its facility to add two new assembly lines and better separate the company’s shipping from production operations.
“Southworth’s ability to change with the times has helped maintain the company’s status as a leader in its industry for 125 years,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “The company’s diversified product line and strong management team, combined with Mississippi County’s skilled workforce, have created a recipe for success.”
“The fact Southworth conducts all of its North American production in Arkansas is a testament to the quality and commitment of the company’s existing workforce at the Manila facility,” said Mike Preston, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “It’s encouraging to see a company like Southworth Products continuing to invest and create new jobs in the state. We appreciate the company’s ongoing commitment to doing business in Arkansas.”
Headquartered in Falmouth, Maine, the original Southworth company was founded in 1890 as an auxiliary equipment supplier to the printing industry. In the 1920s, the company expanded to include an engine assembly division that built fire trucks for towns throughout New England. During World War II, the company added aerospace in support of the war effort to its graphic arts and engine building product offerings. Then after acquiring Southworth in 1977, new ownership seeking a more centralized location for the Company’s nationwide market, first moved some manufacturing from Maine to Arkansas. Today, Southworth maintains four production facilities in Mississippi County where it currently employs a total of 140 people.
The company has a long history of giving back to its communities. During this past anniversary year, employees have logged more than 1,000 hours volunteering for a variety of community projects, donated more than 125 pints of blood while nominating more than 125 charities of their choosing for monetary donations from the Company. Being a good neighbor is a high Southworth priority.
“Mississippi County is very pleased to have worked with Southworth Products and the State of Arkansas to make the expansion being announced today possible,” said Clif Chitwood, executive director of the Great River Economic Development Foundation. “Southworth has long been a pillar of Mississippi County's industrial base and a valued provider of jobs and the better life for families that goes with those jobs. We are very proud that Southworth chose the Manila plant in which to make this expansion.”