Paper-straw maker’s $9 million expansion to create up to 205 new jobs

Aardvark Straws will lease and equip a $9 million, 100,000-square-foot facility at 7310 Innovation Blvd., (News-Sentinel.com file photo by Kevin Leininger)

Aardvark Straws, a Fort Wayne maker of paper straws, will establish a new, state-of-the-art production facility here, creating up to 205 new jobs by the end of 2021.

Aardvark will investing more than $9 million to lease and equip a new 100,000-square-foot facility at 7310 Innovation Blvd. in Fort Wayne, which will replace its current 2701 S. Coliseum Blvd. plant. The new facility will quadruple the company’s footprint and provide the potential to expand again in the future. Since Hoffmaster Group Inc.’s acquisition of Aardvark earlier this year, Hoffmaster has been working to increase 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.

Hoffmaster plans to add more than 100 employees at Aardvark by the end of this year. Aardvark plans to hire straw winders, straw wrappers, material handlers, shipping and receiving and supervisory positions to support its Fort Wayne growth. Interested applicants can apply online. According to an application for tax incentives to be considered by City Council Tuesday, the jobs will pay an average of about $31,000 per year.

“The addition of Aardvark Straws to Hoffmaster’s portfolio of disposable tableware has been a wildly rewarding journey,” Andy Romjue, president of Hoffmaster’s Foodservice Division, said in a statement. “We get new customer requests every single day, and . . . 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.”

Hoffmaster offers a complete line of premium disposable paper tableware items for restaurants, hospitals and a wide variety of other service industries. Hoffmaster, established in 1947, is the platform company for the Hoffmaster Group, Inc. Foodservice Division. Aardvark is the world’s leading brand of paper straws, providing naturally degradable, FDA/EU compliant and compostable products.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered the Hoffmaster Group up to $1.05 million in conditional tax credits based on Aardvark’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The tax abatement to be considered by council lists the project’s value at $5.56 million. If approved, the abatement would reduce Aardvark’s taxes on new equipment by more than $306,000 over seven years.

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. For more information, visit www.aardvarkstraws.com.


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