KL Megla starts Montrose facility
KEOKUK, Feb 24, 2013 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
KL Megla, an Eitorf, Germany-based company, is on the road to recover the business lost by a former firm located at 2600 Kindustry Road in Keokuk.
The former tenant of the building in the Keokuk industrial park, Custom Hardware Manufacturing Inc. had 140 employees working three shifts at one point in its history. Rodney Garrett, engineering director for KL Megla and was chief engineer for CHMI, said CHMI was grossing $17 million in sales a year in its hey day.
CHMI began to lose ground and became Custom Hardware International for a brief spell before KL Megla bought the company in July 2011 in order to hold onto some intellectual property. The companies sold similar products as KL Megla manufactures glass hardware for architectural glass facades, custom homes and upscale hotels around the world. Custom entrance hardware, heavy glass hinges, pneumatic sliding systems and "trackless" folding doors are among its commercial and residential products.
"Our customer base was loyal to CHMI," said Garrett, who worked for the Keokuk company for more than 20 years.
KL Megla has only eight employees, but is starting to earn back some of CHMI's customers.
The company is starting new construction of a building near Montrose across from the Dollar General store along U.S. 61. Garrett said the new location, plus added business, could create 30 to 40 new jobs.
"The plan is to bring some manufacturing from China back to the states," Garrett said.
KL Megla has 10 divisions around the world, plus a facility in Guangzhou, China, where Garrett worked for two or three years.
"We have a sales company in Hong Kong," Garrett said. "I think we are going to keep some distribution in China."
Garrett said he's already heard from former CHMI employees interested in working at the new Montrose facility. He expects some training will be required for new employees, and Southeastern Community College in Keokuk has helped with that process in the past.
"I'm hoping to be operational by the end of May," Garrett said.
Eicher Construction from St. Francisville, Mo., will erect the building, while Schroeder Brothers Construction in Fort Madison will handle the office portion of the build. The manufacturing area of the building will take up 20,000 square foot of space, while the office measures 1,200 square feet.
KL Megla doesn't own the building in the Keokuk industrial park. Garrett said the structure has begun to fall apart, which is another reason for the company to construct a new facility.
Thus far, the timber has been cleared on the Montrose property and the initial dirt work completed.
"Right now we are focused on the commercial," Garrett said.
The Keokuk plant is manufacturing door and window hardware, plus a line of clamp systems. The processes inside the facility include the company doing its own powder coating and computer numerical control machining.
KL Megla's only other U.S. plant is in Oxnard, Calif.
Some of the new Montrose's building will be used for warehousing products making the trip from Oxnard toward KL Megla's East Coast customers.
Garrett said most of the firm's products are shipped via truck. However, some products may be put in containers so they can be shipped overseas, for example to Middle East customers.
Because southeast Iowa recently has been included in the Quad Cities foreign trade zone, KL Megla's imports arrive duty free to the southeast Iowa facilities.
Come spring, the company should be making more products with additional workers, and thus help lower Lee County's unemployment rate.
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