Manufacturing and Real Estate

Bottling supplier builds new facility and grows after fire

July 8, 2016
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FBN Sales Plainwell plant
FBN Sales, a supplier of aftermarket bottling parts for multiple industries, operates its 30,000-square-foot plant in Plainwell. Courtesy FBN Sales

After an electrical fire destroyed its facility, a supplier of aftermarket bottling parts has re-built its infrastructure “from scratch” and experienced repeated year-over-year growth.

"Up and running"

The “devastating ” fire in September 2014 at FBN Sales’ facility in Plainwell, at 928 Industrial Parkway, forced the manufacturer to initially relocate its business into two facilities — one in Plainwell and the other in Kalamazoo — to continue operations while its facility was re-built.

Joe Stroup, VP of sales and marketing at FBN Sales, said the company was fortunate, because it already owned one of the two buildings and was able to quickly lease the second building to get back to full capacity.

“We were up and running in three days,” he said.

Stroup credits the loyalty of FBN Sales’ employees and customers with keeping the company from floundering as it re-built.

“Our customers absolutely, one-hundred percent supported us,” he said. “We are a key vendor to the bottling industry, and it was apparent that we were — based on the loyalty that we experienced once we lost everything.”

New facility

The new 30,000-square-foot facility, which opened in April, is located on the same footprint as the previous building.

The facility is 2,500 square feet larger than the previous building, due to a second story, which houses administrative offices.

Delta Design served as the contractor on the project.

The manufacturing portion of the facility is outfitted with several new CNC lathes and mills and has expanded capabilities. It also has temperature-controlled portions and an inventory department.

“We have more machinery than before the fire and newer models, so our production process arguably has never been better,” said Jim Turley, owner, FBN Sales.

Strout called the new facility “state-of-the-art” and said the upgraded equipment positions the company to be the “best” in the industry.

Growth

Despite the fire, the company has grown each year since 2014 and has added three new machinists and an engineer to bolster its staff to better handle the influx of new orders.

Turley said FBN has “welcomed 18 new customers in the past seven months.”

“The year after the fire, we grew 25 percent, and the following year, we grew about 30 percent,” Stroup said.

Stroup said the company anticipates growth of 15 percent to 20 percent for the next few years.

In anticipation, the facility was built for expansion.

Stroup said FBN Sales plans to break ground in two years on an addition.

The company employs 17 people and is looking to hire additional mechanical engineers, CNC operators and programmers to meet its growing demand.

FBN Sales

FBN Sales is a second-generation family owned business.

It supplies aftermarket bottling parts to a variety of industries: automotive, chemical, beverage, pharmaceutical and microbrewing.

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