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PEM building new HQ to grow workforce, market share

Catherine Kavanaugh, Plastics News

Plastics Extrusion Machinery LLC is building a new headquarters in McPherson, Kan., that will more than double production and office space to 150,000 square feet as part of a growth strategy to increase market share and enter the international and custom profile markets.

Founded in 1978, the manufacturer of downstream extrusion equipment for the PVC pipe and custom profile markets also is planning a hiring spree.

"We will create 30-40 more jobs within the first five years, with more on the way as our sales volume dictates," PEM owner and CEO Nathan Spearman said in an email to Plastics News.

PEM currently operates out of a 63,000-square-foot facility in McPherson and a 32,000-square-foot facility in Tumwater, Wash.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 22 at a 15-acre site in McPherson that will be developed with 120,000 square feet of production space, 15,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of unfinished office space.

This new headquarters will allow PEM to add workers and increase production speed and capacity, positioning the business to better meet customer expectations and expand in the future, according to Spearman.

"In Kansas, our downstream focus has been on the large-diameter side of the market. As such, these pieces of equipment are rather large in size, so they take up a sizable footprint in our shop. This expansion will double our production space and give us the necessary room to assemble several large pieces of equipment simultaneously. Our goal through this expansion is to reduce our production and assembly cycle time, thus reducing our customer's lead time for equipment delivery," Spearman said.

His son, Zachary Spearman, an architecture student at Kansas State University, collaborated with Hutton Construction to design the vestibule of the new structure.

"This new building is not only great for our customers and employees, but it's also been great for me personally as my son, Zach, has been able to be involved in the design of the new building," Spearman said.

Spearman purchased PEM in 2017 and a competing company, Advance Equipment Co., in 2018, which expanded the manufacturing footprint to include the second facility in Tumwater.

In addition, Spearman purchased the business technology of Costa Rican company BellTech Machinery in 2018.

"Ever since buying the company in December 2017, we have introduced several innovations with our bellers, hydrotesters and saws," Spearman said. "This expansion will not only give us an opportunity to capture more market share, we plan to introduce new spray/vacuum tank and packaging innovations, brand new beller designs, and a much more aggressive entrance into international and custom profile markets."

Advance Equipment, which had 12 employees when it was acquired, specializes in equipment for PVC pipe with 1- to 12-inch diameters, while PEM typically starts at 8-inch diameters and goes up to 60 inches.

PEM specializes in pipe belling machines, pipe and profile pullers, utility and travel saws, hydrostatic testing machines, pipe bundlers and other downstream equipment.


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