Company reports progress for site to expand manufacturing
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida County Board, which helped Expera obtain a $15 million loan through the state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands for the company to obtain the former Printpack building on Kemp Street in Rhinelander to expand operations there, received an update Tuesday on the project.
The BCPL in October gave final approval to a resolution backed in September by the County Board authorizing the county to borrow the money for the purpose of financing a “pass-through loan” to the Northeast Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Expera engineering superintendent John Harris informed the County Board the company has raised the roof in the building, in preparation for the new coating line equipment, from the existing 23 feet to 37 feet.
“Our coating equipment is 33 feet tall, so we’ll pretty much take up that whole raised-roof portion of the building with our new equipment,” Harris said. “So the roof is raised. Right now we’re just cleaning, painting, making sure we have a safe, well-lit facility for our equipment and for our employees.”
Harris said a group from Expera went to Korea and did an acceptance test on the coating line equipment.
“The trial went really well,” he said. “We actually ended up leaving Korea a day early and gave them the blessing to send the coating line here.”
Harris said 50 shipping containers full of equipment are being packed up to be shipped in four different boats with the first shipment scheduled to arrive the end of June.
He said the majority of the new coating line should be received in the first three weeks of July, while a new emissions control device known as an oxidizer, which takes emissions from the coating line and burns them, has been installed at the facility.
Harris said the project overall is on track with about a month of mechanical installation and a month of electrical installation to take place once the coating line arrives. He also noted the company hopes to do some testing in September.
When asked about jobs the new coating line is supposed to create, Harris said there would about 20 with those jobs dependent on the schedule to ramp up production.
Oneida County Economic Development Corporation executive director Roger Luce, who was involved in arranging the loan for Expera to expand into the former Printpack building, said the company also wants to make sure some of the current employees know how to operate that equipment as well.
Luce, who has noted Expera’s coating production line involves the aerospace fiber composite area, said sometime this fall the County Board would be invited back to the former Printpack building Expera obtained to see the new piece of equipment run.
Expera last summer received approval of a conditional use permit from the city of Rhinelander to increase the roof and stack height of the vacant Printpack building at 114 W. Kemp St., which Expera had to purchase the property to use the permit.
Expera’s Rhinelander mill manager, Jeff Verdoorn, told the city’s Planning Commission last summer that the company was out of space at its existing facility in the city to be able to do “more of the same” with the process equipment it currently has in place.
According to the project description included with Expera’s permit application with the city, the company sought to obtain the vacant Printpack building to have a process line that would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employ approximately 20 full-time personnel with the existing parking areas, egress and shipping docks being utilized.