Officials expect jobs expansion beyond south Stockton tile plant

Jim Masterson, director of strategic projects for ARDEX, seen at the April 3 ground breaking for the new tile plant, said construction should begin in mid-May. (Business Journal photo by Keith Michaud)

Jim Masterson, director of strategic projects for ARDEX, seen at the April 3 ground breaking for the new tile plant, said construction should begin in mid-May. (Business Journal photo by Keith Michaud)

Central Valley Business Journal, May 3, 2012

By KEITH MICHAUD/Business Journal Editor

An international engineered concrete manufacturer expects that building a plant in south Stockton will mean lots of jobs.

There will be construction jobs and jobs at the plant itself, but also employment opportunities at local restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues catering to the contractors who will come from throughout the West for the plant’s training center.

Local business and city leaders were on hand in early April when they and ARDEX Americas officials broke ground for the new plant.

“It’s a great day here again in Stockton,” Mike Ammann, president and chief executive officer of the San Joaquin Partnership, said at the time of the ground breaking. The Partnership had a hand in drawing the family-owned business to Stockton.

The nearly $9 million, 50,000-square-foot ARDEX Americas manufacturing plant and training center will be on 7.5 acres on Station Drive just east of state Highway 99 between state Highway 4 to the north and East Mariposa Road to the south. It means 100 to 125 construction jobs and a dozen or so jobs once the plant is slated to open in spring 2013.

But the training center will see 2,000 to 3,000 contractors a year in and out of the facility, which means hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues in the city will benefit, said Mike Crouch, ARDEX vice president and chief marketing officer.

“We are in the permitting phase and hope to start construction in mid-May,” Jim Masterson, director of strategic projects for ARDEX, recently said.

Crouch said the plant, the first for ARDEX on the West Coast, will manufacture premium building materials. The site was selected after 18 months and was picked because of the logistics – state Highway 99 is just to the west, railroad tracks run along the rear of the property, and the Stockton Metropolitan Airport is just down the freeway, not to mention the Port of Stockton nearby.

“Smart companies like yours recognize it,” Stockton Councilwoman Susan Talamantes Eggman said of the region’s prime location.

The availability of raw materials also was a key, said Crouch.

“But not only that,” he said. “In part it was the personal relationships we developed along the way. Never discount that.”

At least some of those relationships were developed through the San Joaquin Partnership.

“They’ve been very good to us,” Masterson said of the Partnership.

Ammann recognized representatives from other groups at the event and said a “true partnership” brought the plant to Stockton. He said building materials was one of the target industries economic development experts had look to draw to the region.

“Today we reap the fruit of our efforts,” Ammann said.

He said the region’s location – with freeways, railways, airport, and Port of Stockton all nearby – gives it an edge.

Ammann also noted that the region’s population is expected to double over the next few decades.

“You’ve made a wise decision,” Ammann told ARDEX officials, “because we’re going to need a lot of tile.”

He also predicted an expansion of the facility’s training center as more people become lifelong learners.

Sisler and Sisler Construction of Rancho Cordova Rancho will build the plant. The construction is part of ARDEX Americas’ $25 million, five-year strategic project focusing on tile and stone installation products.

“We are aggressively going after the tile and stone installation segment,” Stephen M. Liozu, ARDEX Americas’ president and chief executive officer, said in an earlier statement. “ARDEX is the global leader in tile and stone installation products and, because of the Stockton facility, will now be a significant player in the U.S. premium market.”

Beside the construction, upgrades are planned for the Aliquippa, Penn., and Dallas, Ga., plants. Together these projects represent the largest expansion since ARDEX Americas moved its corporate offices, training center, and plant from Coraopolis, Penn., to Aliquippa in 2000.

“Despite challenging economic times, ARDEX Americas has consistently grown and diversified its product offerings,” ARDEX Americas Vice President and General Manager Jesse David said in the earlier statement. “We are very fortunate to be in a situation where we are growing our workforce and adding jobs to the economy, as well.”

ARDEX Americas is one of 33 businesses that are part of the privately held ARDEX Group based in Witten, Germany, with more than 1,800 employees worldwide.

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