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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Agustin Arenivar does a quality check Thursday at the Web Industries plant on Ardmore Avenue, one of seven in the U.S. and Europe.

  • Large rolls of raw materials are turned into usable products at Web Industries, which is planning to expand its local factory.

  • Web Industries, which is employee-owned, plans to spend $8 million to expand its Fort Wayne plant by 50,000 square feet and create up to 45 new jobs.

  • James Oas

Friday, May 19, 2017 1:00 am

Web Industries to grow, add jobs

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

An employee-owned manufacturer is investing more than $8 million to expand operations in Fort Wayne and create up to 45 jobs in the next two years, state officials announced Thursday.

Web Industries takes large rolls of raw materials, such as 5-foot-wide sheets of plastic, and cuts them into usable sizes, such as the 1-inch-wide drawstrings that the company's customers insert into the trash bags they make, a spokesman said.

“We're a middle link” in the manufacturing process, spokesman Blake Phillips said. “But we're a crucial middle link.”

The local operation, one of seven in the U.S. and Europe, specializes in super-absorbent, light material used in diapers, sanitary napkins and adult incontinence products.

The Boston-based company also works with materials used in extension cords, computer networking cables, jet airplanes and glucose-testing strips, among other products.

“We jokingly say, 'We're in your home somewhere. You just don't know it,' ” Phillips said.

Construction has started on the 50,000-square-foot addition at 3925 Ardmore Ave., where the existing facility is 110,000 square feet. Building is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Of the company's 500 employee-owners, 75 are in Fort Wayne.

James Oas, the local general manager and operations director for consumer health and hygiene, said employee ownership allows workers to share in the company's success.

Jobs being created include flexographic press operators, with wages starting at $18 an hour, and machine operators, with pay starting at $13 an hour. Experienced applicants can earn more.

Increased customer demand is pushing the manufacturer to expand production to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Oas said.

Mark Phil, Web Industries' president and chief operating officer, said Indiana offers advantages for businesses.

“The state's sound fiscal policies and infrastructure investments have created a strong pro-business environment,” he said in a statement. “The Hoosier workforce is skilled, educated and passionate about building success. The state's central location and extensive transportation system allow us to easily support our expanding customer base.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Web Industries up to $70,000 in conditional tax credits, based on the company's job creation plans. Credit isn't awarded until after jobs are created.

The city of Fort Wayne will also consider additional incentives for the business, which operates in an enterprise zone.