Star Manufacturing, a division of the Middleby Corporation, is expanding it's Smithville operation with plans to create another 200 jobs.
A new building for the expansion will be constructed on a 50 plus acre site on Coconut Ridge Road, just a short distance from the present location on Hobson Street.
Frank Ricchio, President of Star Manufacturing, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Smithville Municipal Airport surrounded by other representatives of the company along with County Mayor Mike Foster and several members of the county commission.
In his announcement, Ricchio says "Star is purchasing 58 acres just up the street from our current plant here and we're looking forward over the next couple of years to start expanding manufacturing. We hope to add another 100 to 200 thousand square feet over the next several years. I think we have about 235 employees here in Smithville and there's a potential over the next 12 to 24 months for (adding) a couple of hundred jobs or maybe a little more than that."
"We manufacture commercial cooking equipment for restaurants including a variety of cooking appliances, griddles, charbroilers, conveyorized ovens, convection ovens, as well as products for concession stands, snack bars, and arenas, like the Titan's Stadium, like hotdog equipment, and popcorn machines. We distribute and sell worldwide.'
"Star is a privately held company since 1989, about six years after we first built the plant. But last December, we sold the business to the Middleby Corporation, which is a publicly owned corporation headquartered in Chicago. Middleby has some 19 different divisions manufacturing food service equipment and food processing equipment. We're one of their larger divisions, one of their more profitable divisions and that's why this opportunity really came along, although we've expanded from 50,000 square feet to almost 200,000 square feet on our own. Middelby enables us to utilize the great resources we have here in Smithville, the people, and the talent we have working for us. They (Middleby) have businesses that aren't performing as well as we are or don't have the skills we do in manufacturing, so we're very fortunate that they supported us in acquiring this land and are supporting us in our plans to eventually start building, expanding, and bringing more jobs here so I'd like to thank Middleby for supporting us in what we're doing.'
"I've been with the company since 1982. I joined one year before we actually opened in Smithville. I came up through the sales and marketing part of the business until I became president in 1999. I've been very impressed with the people of Smithville, the work ethic, and the fact that we've grown a lot. We've always been able to attract good people, even with the other industries in the surrounding area. I think we're very fortunate. This has been a great expansion for us and we want to continue it."
"We're (Star) is headquartered in Saint Louis, Missouri but we have (Middleby) companies in North Carolina, Illinois, New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, Michigan, and other places in the country along with a manuacfuring facility in the Philippines."
County Mayor Mike Foster says the new jobs being created by Star will be a big boost to the local econony. "The state is going to help them with infrastructure and some of the fast track programs such as site drainage permits, etc. They (state) will assist with some of the initiatives like tax incentives for each job they create, which they would do for any factory that comes in with 25 people or more and expends at least $500,000. They (Star) will probably construct a building in the neighborhood of $8 and $20 million dollars. Hopefully, it (additional jobs) will contribute around $8 million dollars a year to the economy here once they get up to full speed. The county is helping them (Star). We put up the earnest money on the property. We did the topo mapping for the property back when we were trying to decide if it was suitable. We are going to help them with the surface to water run-off permit, which we already have done. We'll also do some other things, infrastructure wise and drainage wise to help them get their program going. But the big contribution was through Economic and Community Development of the State of Tennessee. Don Rigsby helped us with that as well as other people."
"Star bought the land from an individual. It was put in their name. They will transfer it to the DeKalb County Industrial Development Board in order to take advantage of the way the government sets up their programs. The first two years will be tax free (to Star) because they don't have any building or anything there yet (on the new property). The third year, it will be 20% of what it's appraised at. The following year, it will be 40%, then 60%, then 80% of the appraised value. That is being done to stimulate them in their early years. They've been here 25 years and this new expansion is hopefully going to create a minimum of 210 jobs. Work on the site, as far as clearing and site prep will begin just as soon as we can get the permit back from the state."
According to the company website, Star Manufacturing International, Inc., headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, has been making durable, reliable, quality products since 1921. That year, Star introduced it's first product, a popcorn machine. Since then, the company has grown and expanded into one of the world's most respected and valued manufacturers of products in six major categories: Counter Top Gas and Electric Commercial Cooking Appliances, Hot Dog Cooking and Preparation Equipment, Popcorn Machines, Specialty Food Warmers ,Display Merchandisers, Toasters & Waffle Bakers
Star products are used in a broad range of applications that include fast food, leisure, concessions and traditional restaurant operations. Star manufactured equipment is used in little league, big league ball parks, arenas, stadiums, restaurants and convenience stores.
(Pictured left to right: Star Plant Manager Fred Edington, County Commissioner Randy Caplinger, Star President Frank Ricchio, County Mayor Mike Foster, County Commissioners Jerry Scott, Bobby Joines, and Jack Barton, and Tommy Martin of Star Manufacturing)