Orbis breaks ground on 100,000-square-foot addition

Orbis and Menasha employees, along with Monticello and JCED officials, take part in the groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 12. The addition would more than double the size of Orbis’ current plant, allowing for future growth. Construction is expected to be done by the summer of 2018. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     On Oct. 12, Orbis Corporation in Monticello held a groundbreaking for a new warehouse addition that will more than double the current facility, expanding from 80,000 to 180,000 square feet.

     Located in Monticello, the international manufacturer of sustainable reusable packaging and supply chain optimization expert, is making room for continued, future growth.

     Doug Wortman, manager of the Orbis Monticello plant, spoke at the groundbreaking held behind the plant. Several Monticello city and Jones County Economic Development officials were on hand, as well as Menasha Corporation leaders. (Orbis is part of the Menasha family.)

     “Everyone at Orbis wants to thank the City of Monticello, Jones County Economic Development, and Iowa Economic Development for inspiring us to continue investing in the Monticello operation,” said Wortman. “Having twice the space than we currently operate in will allow us to offer more services, in-house capabilities, and products to our customers and position the plant for future manufacturing growth. Working with the City of Monticello and JCED, we were able to secure all of the bids thus far, from businesses here in Monticello and Jones County.”

     Wortman said several of the Orbis team members had been working on this expansion project for at least seven years.

     “We tried to make it economically feasible,” he said of the project.

     Al Urbain, owner of Construction Management, Inc. in Dubuque, was hired by Orbis to manage and oversee the addition project. He said Orbis tried to make this happen back in 2010-11.

     With site work and construction already underway, Wortman said the goal is to have the addition completed by early summer 2018.

     “Now we’re at the execution point where the shovels hits the dirt,” he added.

     To assist in the groundbreaking ceremony, several Orbis employees came together to build a mechanical digger, showcasing the work produced at Orbis.

     Wortman specifically thanked former JCED Director Dusty Embree.

     “Dusty aligned us with the right folks in Des Moines to help make sure this happened in Monticello, Iowa,” he said of the local and state economic incentives.

     Doug Miller, regional Orbis director in Wisconsin, said as a rule, Menasha isn’t in the warehouse-building business.

     “We lease,” he said.

     But, with Orbis as one of their top-performing manufacturing plants “year in and year out,” Menasha knew this addition was needed.

     “Productivity here and gone from great to unbelievable,” Miller added,” for 31 years now in the books.”

     Monticello City Administrator Doug Herman said the city’s job is to provide for its residents. Many times, those services don’t make or produce a profit, such as the library and swimming pool. In order to keep providing such important services, recouping property taxes is a must.

     “We need new and improved buildings and employees willing to work,” Herman said.

     Orbis has two plants in Iowa and has had the Monticello plant since the mid-1970s. The plant continues to be a major employer in the Monticello area, and is also a leader in the business using robotic automation in the assembly, decoration, and stacking of its plastic containers. Most of the in-house automation was engineered and built with the talent at the Monticello plant.

     “We believe strong enough in the future of robotics in manufacturing that Randy Bacon and Brad Green engineered a bucket and programmer a robot to help dig at the groundbreaking ceremony,” said Greg Kemp, technical and engineering manager.


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