Abatement approved for Indiana Furniture expansion

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

JASPER — Indiana Furniture Industries will invest more than $17 million to add a new facility on Jasper's south side and will close its location on Mill Street.

The Jasper Common Council approved Wednesday a nine-year tax abatement that will phase out in the final four years to help fund the project. The company announced earlier this week that it plans to build a 165,000-square-foot addition that will be used for manufacturing and shipping.

“This is a real key part for us to be able to do this and to remain a viable part of the community,” Indiana Furniture President and CEO Max Verkamp said. “For these really big projects … we really need the support of the city.”

The company plans to invest $14.25 million total in 2021 and 2022 to build the addition to the facility on County Road West 100 South, and will also invest $3.5 million over the next four years into new equipment.

Verkamp said the company has to continually modernize if it wants to remain a part of the Jasper community, as it has for the past 116 years.

“When we look at how to stay competitive, a lot of it has to do with the products and services we provide to the customer,” he said. “An office today does not look anything like an office 10 years ago. An office 10 years from now is going to look different, and we’re going to have to be innovative.”

The current Mill Street facility has become inefficient, Verkamp said. The building operates on four floors, which means it is elevator-dependent and cannot handle certain heavy machinery on upper levels. The expansion will mostly consolidate manufacturing to one single-floor location and will also lead to safety and environmental improvements.

“Right now, we have trucks driving between all of our facilities all day long, just driving big circles,” Verkamp said.

Over recent years, Indiana Furniture has pivoted to primarily producing seating, as it is the fastest growing segment of their business and the industry, Verkamp said.

“In the past, we would sell case goods and maybe get a little bit of seating,” he said. “Now, we’re starting to see people are attracted to our seating and we might get conference tables or case goods along with it.”

Construction is set to begin soon and will be done in phases. Once the facility is built, the company plans to move all employees from the Mill Street location and anticipates adding more employees in the future. Eventually, the corporate offices will also vacate the Mill Street building so it can be put up for sale, but this may not be for several years, Verkamp said.

The council also:

• Heard a presentation from the Jasper Mayor’s Youth Council about its plan to erect a new “Welcome to Jasper'' sign on the north side of town. The group has been working on the project throughout the year and hopes to have it finished by the end of the summer.

• Approved an ordinance establishing a fund for the American Rescue Plan. The city will receive approximately $3.28 million, which can be spent on several COVID-19 recovery uses, such as infrastructure improvements and revenue recovery. The funds will have to be used by the end of 2024.

• Approved a resolution adding a fee for online booking with Buffalo Trace Golf Course and removing language about the old Ruxer Golf Course fees.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com