It’s déjà vu all over again.
A longtime Jonesboro company broke ground on a $12 million, 62,000 square foot facility that will bring up to 75 new jobs to the company.
The expansion groundbreaking for Hytrol Conveyor Co. was the 10th one at its facility on Arkansas 18 and the first one since 1999, the company’s chairman, Robert Jones, said before the shovel-turning event.
The company, which makes conveyors for companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s and Fed Ex, moved to Jonesboro in 1962.
Jones said the work on the expansion began in late 2013, with company officials working feverishly to get to Tuesday’s groundbreaking.
The expansion will include using a new paint system as well as manufacturing equipment including brake presses, lasers and CNC milling machines, officials said in a media release Tuesday morning.
Jones said the company has faced some adversity in the past decade or so, operating through two recessions and the 2004 death of the company’s founder, Tom Loberg.
But, the company and its employees have been resilient, Jones said.
“We have thrived and built …. Literally, we are adding more stones to that foundation today,” Jones said.
The company exports nearly 12% of its products overseas, Jones said, with products going across North America, South America, the Middle East and more.
The company’s president, David Peacock, said the new paint system will expand the company’s investment from $130 million to nearly $375 million.
Peacock, who took over from longtime president Greg Goodner who retired, said the construction will be done by Jonesboro-based Ramson’s Construction.
Peacock said the construction project will also benefit the area economy with local construction workers helping to build the facility.
Construction is expected to be done by late this year with equipment and the paint being moved into the facility during the first quarter of 2016.
The facility is expected to open by April 2016.
Also attending the groundbreaking Tuesday was Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.
Perrin said he first met Tom Loberg in 1968 when Perrin moved to Jonesboro.
Perrin and Loberg later served on the old Mercantile Bank board and a friendship was built, Perrin said.
Loberg, who collected pens, gave Perrin a pen one day and also stressed certain beliefs, Perrin said.
“Tom told me, ‘Take care of your people and they will take care of you’,” Perrin said.
Perrin, who was recently appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Workforce Development Board, said the technology that will be used at the new facility is a growing trend.
“Yesterday, I climbed up into an excavator (for the city). I noticed that there were no gears in the excavator,” Perrin said. “It was an excavator with a joystick.”