Unilever is planning a major expansion at its margarine and spreads manufacturing plant in Gardner, boosting its size by 50 percent and hiring 100 more employees.
By KEVIN COLLISON
The Kansas City Star
The $152.5 million investment was announced Tuesday at the company’s plant in the New Century AirCenter industrial park. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Unilever executives were among those there.
When completed, the expansion will bring the total workforce to 270 employees at the plant, which makes such products as Country Crock, Promise, Imperial and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.
“The investment and expansion of our New Century spreads facility are a significant milestone in the history of Unilever USA … in line with our strategy of investing back for growth in America,” Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said in a statement.
“By creating a world-class manufacturing facility, we are further investing in our core brands and we’re excited about the growth this will enable.”
Unilever acquired the Gardner plant at 27080 W. 159th St. in 1984 from Kent Foods. The investment will expand the plant by 50 percent to 447,929 square feet.
The investment includes $45 million for construction and infrastructure, the remaining amount going to new manufacturing equipment.
“Unilever’s expansion here in Kansas is significant, “ Brownback said. “Their new state-of-the-art facility brings 100 new jobs to Kansas, and it brings economic growth to southwest Johnson County.”
Unilever has its global headquarters in London and Rotterdam and employs more than 173,000 people throughout the world, including 10,000 in the U.S. Its product line of food, home and personal care items is sold in more than 190 countries.