Aardvark to move to former Harris building

November 19th, 2018

By Linda Lipp | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Just a few months after purchasing Aardvark Straws, Hoffmaster Group Inc. is making good on its promise to expand the paper straw maker’s operation in Fort Wayne with a move to a larger manufacturing facility.

Hoffmaster will lease about 112,000 square feet of space in the 300,000 square-foot former Harris Corp. building at 7310 Innovation Blvd, according to an announcement from the Indiana Economic Development Commission. The company is investing $9 million to lease and equip the new facility and expects to add as many as 205 new jobs by the end of 2021. About 100 of those jobs could be created by the end of this year, the statement said.

Bill Drinkall, of NAI Hanning & Bean, represented Hoffmaster in the transaction, and Fletcher Moppert, of Zacher Co., represented the lessor.

“It’s encouraging to see continued economic momentum in northeast Indiana from great companies like Aardvark,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said the Nov. 9 announcement.

In its tax abatement request to the Fort Wayne City Council, Hoffmaster said the project would create 156 full-time, permanent jobs, at an average annual wage of $31,240, for a total new, annual payroll of $4,873,560. Additionally, it said it would retain 98 full-time, permanent jobs at an average of $30,849, or a current annual payroll of $3,023,216.

The investment to equip and ready the plant for production was estimated at $5,565,000, the abatement request said.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Hoffmaster up to $1,050,000 in conditional tax credits based on Aardvark’s job creation plans.

The new space leased for Aardvark will replace its current 2701 S. Coliseum Blvd. plant. The advanced manufacturing facility, built in 1985, will quadruple the company’s footprint and provide the potential to expand again in the future.

Since its acquisition of Aardvark in August, Hoffmaster has been working to aggressively ramp up Aardvark’s manufacturing capacity in light of the growing demand for viable plastic straw alternatives. With this expansion, Aardvark is on track to increase production capacity 700 percent by the end of 2019, the announcement said.

“We get new customer requests every single day, and we’re proud to produce the best paper straw available on the market while battling the world’s plastic crisis,” said Andy Romjue, president of Hoffmaster’s Foodservice Division.

“This facility expansion is a strategic move that prepares us to serve current customers and meet the forecasted growth of paper straws. We want to thank the city of Fort Wayne, which has been home to Aardvark’s manufacturing facility for 11 years, and the Hagerman Group for the construction of our new facility.”

Aardvark paper straws were introduced in 2007 in response to a growing anti-plastic movement. Precision Products Group, Inc., created an environmentally friendly straw based off of the original paper straw invented in 1888 by Marvin Stone. Today, Aardvark offers printed straws, cake pop sticks and Eco-Flex paper straws that are earth and marine friendly, naturally degradable, FDA/EU compliant, compostable and made in the USA.

Aardvark will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the new facility, 7310 Innovation Blvd. During the job fair, candidates will learn more about Aardvark’s career opportunities and meet with current team leaders.