ORLEANS — Standing next to Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Jasper Group's Mike Elliot on Friday reaffirmed the company's commitment to bringing jobs to Orange County.
The company plans to create more than 300 new jobs by 2021.
Elliott had first expressed the Jasper Group's commitment to the county in December when the company announced plans to assume operations of the former Paoli Inc. plant on the south side of Orleans.
"We call it an opportunity," Elliott said during a gathering of about 40 people who were at the Orleans plant Friday. He was there to call attention to the Jasper Group's ongoing presence in Orange County and more specifically to the company's transition into producing furniture in Orleans.
"We started about 23 years ago in French Lick," said Elliott, who is the president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board. The company then purchased a building on Hospital Road in Paoli, where more than 200 people are now employed. The Paoli facility is at capacity, which factored into Jasper Group's decision to expand its production and workforce into the 1.2-million-square-foot Orleans facility.
"In Orleans, we have 137 employees," Elliott said. "The goal short-term is to have in excess of 300, long term is to fill the building up. ... Today, we have 498 employees in Orange County." When the number of Orange County workers and Dubois County workers is combined, it brings to 1,079 the total number of people working in the factories and 129 people working in the corporate office in Jasper. "That gives you a little over 1,200 people that we have employed in Indiana," Elliott said.
Holcomb, taking his turn at the podium, told the company's management, "We're just so thankful that you have belief in Indiana, and we're not going to let you down. ... You have lots of opportunity to invest all over the world and you're doing it right here in Orange County, Indiana, and Dubois County, Indiana. … It is making a real difference for Hoosiers."
In a news release Friday, Holcomb said, "In Indiana, manufacturing companies like Jasper Group have elevated our reputation as a leader in the manufacturing sector. I commend the Jasper Group team for their continued growth, and I pledge that Indiana will maintain a pro-growth business environment and provide the skilled workforce they need to be successful in the years ahead.”
The company will purchase and equip the Orleans facility. Elliott said Friday that when the decision was made for the purchase, he stipulated, "I want to hire all of the production employees that are in the building."
Renovations already have begun, with the company retrofitting the facility, investing in new manufacturing equipment and upgrading its information technology infrastructure. The new facility, which has already started production, makes laminate casegoods and tables while also serving as a warehouse and shipping hub. Jasper Group plans to expand its production capabilities at the new site in the future to include upholstered products and veneer casegoods and tables. The Orleans-based facility will be the company’s seventh manufacturing site and its largest operations center.
Jasper Group already has started hiring for logistics, IT, engineering, customer service, manufacturing and corporate positions. Interested applicants may apply online.
Elliott said, “Indiana continues to be the ideal location for our growth, and we look forward to welcoming talented individuals of the furniture craft to our growing team as we work to provide a high-quality product and great service at the right price.”
Established in 1929, Jasper Group was founded as Jasper Seating Co., making school and office chairs. Over the years, as demand increased and the product line diversified, the company evolved its brand platform, acquired additional manufacturing space and entered new markets.
The news release states the company is now the parent of four brands that make seating and casegoods products in Dubois and Orange counties, with showrooms across the U.S. in 10 additional states outside of Indiana. Jasper Group’s brands consist of the JSI brand, which makes furniture for business interiors; the Community brand, which makes furniture for public spaces; the Klem brand, which makes furniture for hospitality; and the Jasper Desk brand, which makes custom-oriented furniture for business interiors.
“We are obviously very excited about Jasper Group’s major investment in our hometown of Orleans and re-purposing of the former Paoli building," said Robert Henderson, Orleans town clerk and executive director for the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. "We are grateful to have Jasper Group's presence continue to grow in the Orange County business community and we endeavor to assist them in any way possible going forward. Both the town of Orleans and chamber officials are proud to have partnered with the state, Orange County Economic Development Partnership and Radius Indiana in this important effort. We are looking for good things to come.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Jasper Seating Co., dba Jasper Group, up to $2,000,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s plans to create up to 316 new jobs. These incentives are performance-based, meaning that until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The town of Orleans offered additional incentives at the request of the OCEDP, and Radius Indiana will provide additional incentives to support workforce training through its Regional Impact Fund.