Pet toy manufacturer helps south Wichita revitalization
The company and its landlord are seeking industrial revenue bonds along with some property and sales tax relief.
Landlord Jeff Lange, through his IH1 LLC, has asked the city for up to $6.1 million in IRBs. The Wichita City Council will consider the request on Tuesday.
“This is very much about expanding the headquarters, and that’s what we want to continue to do,” says Cosmic Pet CEO Tim Blurton.
In March 2018, the company moved from space at 31st and Meridian to a 103,500-square-foot building that Lange built on spec at Ironhorse, which is at the southwest corner of MacArthur and Seneca.
At the time, Lange said landing Hyper Pet — which he said was seriously eyeing a move to Kansas City — was proof that the council’s vote for tax breaks on speculative buildings makes sense.
Now, Cosmic Pet wants to expand again with another 100,000-square-foot facility.
Through a letter to the council, Lange wrote that Cosmic Pet had options to expand outside of Wichita instead.
In addition to the IRBs — $5.5 million is to expand the building, $600,000 is for new equipment — the company is seeking a tax exemption on improvements for 10 years and a 94 percent sales tax exemption for the project’s cost that is financed with the bonds.
Blurton says the company, which has 50 employees, will add 24 jobs over the next several years with an annual salary of about $60,000 each.
“A good portion of those jobs will come immediately,” he says.
Late last year and again this spring, Hyper Pet purchased two other businesses, “which basically tripled the size of our business.”
“We want to bring all of that into Wichita,” Blurton says.
Traditionally, the company has made dog toys, collars and leashes.
“It’s a great industry,” Blurton says of the pet industry in general. “It’s got good growth records.”
He says the company also is going to fill its dog beds through its Wichita operations so it can say they are made and filled in the USA.
Cosmic Pet is centralizing a lot of the functions from the other two companies into the Wichita headquarters. It is keeping the other offices as well.
“This is just a huge example of Hyper Pet — Cosmic Pet — made the commitment to make Wichita their world headquarters,” Lange says.
Without the IRBs, he says the company could have simply kept more space in Ohio and San Francisco.
“It’s just that point blank,” Lange says. No IRBs “is just a deal killer.”
Also, he says Cosmic Pet is “a diversity company for Wichita,” meaning the pet industry is a big one outside of the aerospace industry.
“It’s an opportunity for Wichita to have a very exciting company that’s one of the top five in that industry.”
Blurton says he’s also taking away some of the third-party warehousing the other companies used and will have it in the warehouse in Wichita.
Hyper Pet, which is a brand in addition to the former name of the company, is one of several brands the company now has.
“As we got bigger, obviously there’s a lot more brands in the portfolio,” Blurton says.
“We thought a fresh name was sort of a good way for us to be able to umbrella the company.”
Cosmic Pet’s new building will abut its existing one, and workers will be able to walk between the two.
“We’ve got a lot more opportunity for growth,” Blurton says.
Construction on the new building will start within the next month.
Blurton says he can’t say if the new building will be enough room for the company’s future growth.
“I really hope it’s not,” he says. “It would be lovely to fill it immediately.”