To be the nation’s only domestic producer of single-use nitrile gloves, Japan-based SHOWA Group ramped up production and increased its workforce at its factory in Fayette, Alabama.
Launched in late 2019, before COVID-19 emerged, SHOWA’s expansion project triggered the construction of a new, 40,000-square-foot factory on its Fayette production site. After the six-story structure was completed last October, the company began building two high-speed production lines to increase output of PPE.
“We’re just trying to get every single glove we can out the door to fight this pandemic,” Mike Kimple, director of manufacturing said. “Every day, SHOWA’s Alabama facility produces around 1 million gloves made from a hypoallergenic synthetic rubber that serves as an alternative to latex. Thanks to an expansion project now nearing completion, that figure will double.”
In late January, the Fayette plant had 270 employees and was adding eight to 10 new workers each week. Eventually, the number is expected to reach 400.
“With so many businesses suffering during the pandemic, we’re in the fortunate position to be hiring right now,” said plant manager Scott Robertson. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs provided a $500,000 grant to the City of Fayette for infrastructure repairs related to SHOWA’s growth project. ADECA has also committed to additional support.
The Alabama Department of Commerce says SHOWA received nearly $5 million in incentives under the Alabama Jobs Act, and AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, is providing services to the company.
“SHOWA Group has been a contributor to the Alabama economy for almost 50 years and has been a good friend and neighbor in Fayette,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “This expansion will help this Alabama plant modernize and begin production of new innovations in the disposable glove industry.” ADECA said the City of Fayette pledged $100,000 for the infrastructure project.
With the new factory in Fayette completed, SHOWA’s focus has turned to manufacturing the two new high-tech monorail production lines. The first is expected to start up in April, with the second slated to begin production in the summer.