WEST BEND, Wis. - At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they were just trying to catch up. Now, a West Bend company is in the heart of a major expansion project -- growing their Wisconsin footprint to meet the demand for disinfecting wipes.
The new location is about a five-minute drive from Comar's current facility. The company makes the lids for the canisters of wipes you'll find at the store, and their new building will help them do even more.
And this new building will help them do even more.
At 25,000 square feet, Plant Manager James Spalding had to get creative and use every open space he could find inside the West Bend plant to make millions of lids for canisters of wipes.
"When COVID hit, the demand just skyrocketed," said Spalding. "It skyrocketed to a level, frankly, that we've never seen, and we just weren't tooled up or prepared for in our current facility."
They were forced to grow, adding staff to run and maintain the machines and crank out orders every day of the week.
"Our expected output going from 2020 into 2021 is going to be about five to six times larger than anything we've planned for in the past," said Spalding.
Comar expects the need for disinfecting wipes -- and thus their canister lids -- to extend well past the pandemic, which is why they're expanding, moving into a new space.
"Originally, when this all hit, nobody cared as much, because it's a new normal," said Josh Long. "Now, at this point, we've created that new normal, so that demand stays around."
Long is managing the project -- from 25,000 square feet to 160,000, which will not only give them more space to meet their customers' needs, but it will also let them build upon a team that's already proven to be successful.
"You have an existing operating facility," said Long. "You have a great team, great people, and it's one of those things where if you can take what you have and keep it in that same vicinity, in this smaller town, you get the same results when it comes to quality."
Comar is looking to hire another 80 employees, including some entry-level positions to work at the new facility.