Indiana Furniture investing more than $17M in expansion, move from downtown

Indiana Furniture is adding a 165,000 square foot addition on Jasper’s southside with plans to close the company’s 116-year-old location on Mill Street.

According to Indiana Furniture President and CEO Max Verkamp, the multistory building on Mill Street is not conducive to modern furniture manufacturing processes. Additionally, the company is responding to the market demand for more seating options by placing more emphasis on those lines.

“Seating is the fastest-growing segment of our business in the industry,” Verkamp said adding that the types of seating they are making are significantly larger than a typical wood chair.

To accommodate the larger pieces they are manufacturing as well as add modernized automated manufacturing processes, the company plans on investing $14.25 million in 2021 and 2022 to create the addition to the facility located on County Road West 100 South.

In addition to the property expansion, the company also plans on investing $3.5 million over the next four years into equipment for the addition as well as the existing flat lines and plywood facility. All to support the new expansion into seating.

Verkamp pointed out that in addition to the flow of production that requires elevators over multiple floors in the Mill Street location, certain parts of the building can’t support the heavier machinery being brought in.

Construction is set to begin soon and will be completed in phases. The company will finish a portion, move in, and establish necessary processes before moving on to the next phase of construction.

Verkamp said they estimate adding five new positions over the next four years due to the expansion.

All manufacturing employees will eventually move over to the new facility once it is finished. And while corporate will maintain its offices in the Mill Street building for now, the plan is to put the four-story building up for sale and eventually relocate the corporate offices to another existing building in Jasper.

In addition to the investment in the southside property, Verkamp pointed out the move would greatly reduce the trucking through the city as everything would be in one location. “We will see safety and environmental improvement with the reduction of truck traffic through town,” he told the commission.

The Mill Street facility is the company’s shipping hub so it brings finished products as well as parts to that location from the southside facility on a regular basis.

The company is seeking a tax abatement for the investments it is making in the new construction as well as equipment and gave a presentation of its plans to the Jasper Economic Development Commission Monday morning.

The company was one of the first to take advantage of Jasper’s tax abatement program when it was introduced in 2011. That abatement was awarded for an estimated $20 million investment in the company’s plywood facility and the construction of administrative offices at the southside operation.

The commission asked what would happen to the Mill Street building and how soon Indiana Furniture would begin moved out of the building. Verkamp said he has had inquiries from individuals interested in the building for offices or for alternative uses like apartments. They plan on being moved out of the building by late 2023 to early 2024.

The Economic Development Commission forwarded a recommendation for a nine-year tax abatement that would phase out in the final four years for final approval by the Jasper Common Council. The council will consider the tax abatement at the upcoming meeting planned for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.