Aardvark Straws, a Hoffmaster Group Inc. subsidiary and paper straw manufacturer, will expand its operations in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The company will establish a new, state-of-the-art production facility and plans to create up to 205 new jobs by the end of 2021.
Aardvark is investing more than $9 million to lease and equip a new 100,000-square-foot facility at 7310 Innovation Blvd. in Fort Wayne, which will replace its current 2701 South Coliseum Blvd. plant. The new facility will quadruple the company's footprint and provide the potential to expand again in the future.
Since Hoffmaster’s acquisition of Aardvark earlier this year, Hoffmaster has been working to aggressively ramp up Aardvark’s manufacturing capacity in light of the growing demand for viable plastic straw alternatives. With this expansion, Aardvark is on track to increase production capacity 700 percent by the end of 2019.
“The addition of Aardvark Straws to Hoffmaster’s portfolio of disposable tableware has been a wildly rewarding journey,” said Andy Romjue, President of Hoffmaster’s Foodservice Division. “We get new customer requests every single day, and we’re proud to produce the best paper straw available on the market while battling the world’s plastic crisis. This facility expansion is a strategic move that prepares us to serve current customers and meet the forecasted growth of paper straws. We want to thank the city of Fort Wayne, which has been home to Aardvark’s manufacturing facility for 11 years, and The Hagerman Group for the construction of our new facility.”
To ensure efficient and increased production, Hoffmaster plans to add more than 100 employees to the Aardvark team by the end of 2018. Aardvark plans to hire straw winders, straw wrappers, material handlers, shipping and receiving and supervisory positions to support its Fort Wayne growth.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered the Hoffmaster Group up to $1,050,000 in conditional tax credits based on Aardvark’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The city of Fort Wayne will consider additional incentives at the request of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
"It's encouraging to see continued economic momentum in northeast Indiana from great companies like Aardvark," Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. "Aardvark is an important part of our state’s diversified manufacturing sector, which boasts more than 8,500 facilities across the state. Those manufacturers provide thousands of good, quality jobs for Hoosiers, and those opportunities will continue to grow in the coming years thanks to the dedication of job creators like Aardvark.”