The timing for SHOWA’s growth project – a landmark in Fayette dating back to 1972 – was the right one.
“Around the second COVID hit our shores, we started to see an incredible increase in demand. It hasn’t stopped to this day, ”Kmple said.
Between the growing demand for its gloves and the expansion project, the SHOWA factory is in full swing of hiring, according to Scott Robertson, the factory manager. At the end of January, the Fayette plant had 270 employees and was adding eight to ten new workers every week. Ultimately, the number is expected to reach 400.
“With so many businesses suffering during the pandemic, we are fortunate to be hiring right now,” Robertson said.
Robertson said the SHOWA expansion project has received considerable support from federal, state and local governments.
Very early on, his team traveled to Montgomery to meet with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which awarded a $ 500,000 grant to the Town of Fayette for infrastructure repairs related to the SHOWA growth project. ADECA is also committed to providing additional support.
“The SHOWA Group has contributed to Alabama’s economy for almost 50 years and has been a good friend and neighbor in Fayette,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “This expansion will help this Alabama plant to modernize and start production of new innovations in the disposable glove industry. “
ADECA said the town of Fayette had pledged $ 100,000 for the infrastructure project.
The Alabama Department of Commerce says SHOWA has received nearly $ 5 million in incentives under Alabama’s employment law, and AIDT, the leading workforce development agency. work of the state, provides services to the company.
Robertson said the high level of support moved the project forward.
“The collaboration between local, state and federal government has been great for us. It certainly helped us sell to our board to do it at Fayette. We’re a Japanese company and I guess they could have decided to build this anywhere, ”he said.
“I like to think that our support from local, state and federal governments helped them make this decision to keep him here in Fayette.”
With the completion of the new Fayette plant, SHOWA focused on manufacturing the two new high-tech monorail production lines. The first is expected to start in April, and the second is expected to start production this summer.
“These lines have a much higher capacity than what we have. This is the latest and greatest in glove manufacturing technology, ”said Kimple. “With these two lines, we will be able to manufacture 2 million gloves per day.”
Further growth plans are already underway, with SHOWA launching another investment project linked to the expansion.
This growth is the latest chapter in SHOWA’s long history in Fayette, where it started as a manufacturer of rubber gloves to support a nearby factory. Around 1990, the factory changed the production of synthetic gloves.
“We are in fact the inventors of the disposable nitrile glove. We were the first to manufacture it at our factory in Fayette and since then we have been manufacturing nitrile gloves, ”said Kimple. “It has been copied around the world.
Historically, customers for SHOWA gloves have been primarily industrial companies, but the pandemic has triggered strong demand from first responders and the healthcare community.
Robertson and Kimple said Fayette was the perfect location for SHOWA’s growth plans.
“Our people are from here. These are the people I grew up with. I know their mom and dad, ”said Robertson, a Fayette native who has worked at the company for 11 years. “So # 1, our workforce is invested in the community and in our success or failure.
“And # 2, our utility rates are top notch. I think we could compare our utility rates to anyone in the world, and 99% of the time we’re going to be the winners, ”he added.
“Those two things – the people and the benefits we have in terms of utility – are two big selling points.”
Kimple said the SHOWA Alabama workforce is proud of its contribution to the fight against COVID-19.
“We have an extremely loyal employee base. We have employees who have worked there for 40 years. I myself have been there for 25 years. Once you work for SHOWA, it’s like family, ”Kimple said.
“Our employees are very proud of what they are doing, especially now with the pandemic and being able to do our part. In fact, the COVID pandemic has taken our pride to a new level. “