JR Custom to add jobs, expand plant

08/17/2012 6:42 AM

08/17/2012 6:42 AM

For one Wichita manufacturer, business is good in the aircraft, agriculture, bus and wind energy industries.

That’s why JR Custom Metal Products is planning a $3 million expansion that will add jobs, equipment and production space.

The expansion will include adding 30,000 square feet to the company’s 87,000-square-foot plant at 2237 S. West St. Court. Two pieces of equipment and the hiring of 50 more employees over five years also are part of the expansion announced Thursday.

“Diversification has been good for the company,” said Patty Koehler, president, CEO and a second-generation family member of the company started by her father, Jesus Raul Martinez Sr., in 1974. “It’s not just one industry, it’s a combination of industries where manufacturing is up.”

The company, which employs 120 people, manufactures a variety of parts, tooling and other components for original equipment manufacturers.

“It seems like all of our industries are increasing production and new product development,” Koehler said.

Koehler said JR Custom’s business has been so brisk it’s had to lease two buildings to handle the increasing work.

The 30,000-square-foot expansion will alleviate a long-term need for extra space.

“The bids go out next week (for the new addition) and we hope to have the facility up, probably after the first quarter of next year,” she said. “So it’s an immediate need.”

Koehler said the company also plans to purchase another laser-cutting machine and a “folding table,” which will be used to bend pieces of metal vertically.

And like the addition of temporary space, the company has already begun ramping up employment.

“I think when we started this process we either had 105 or 110 employees,” she said.

The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, city of Wichita and Sedgwick County are assisting in JR Custom’s expansion, which includes a proposed property tax abatement, according to a release Thursday from the coalition.

Koehler said that even with the planned expansion and a full plate of work, the company continues to plan for further diversification.

“We continue to seek other markets and will be working on some international products also,” she said.

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