In a move driven by customer demand and strong industry forecasts, conveyor belt producer Smiley Monroe announced the opening of a manufacturing facility in Franklin, Ky. This $2 million investment, assisted by Danske Bank and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will create 30 new full-time jobs in the local area, as well as safeguarding jobs at the company’s headquarters in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.
Over the past 40 years the company has grown to become the leading producer of highly customized endless conveyor belts and custom rubber and plastic parts to the mobile equipment sector, exporting to more than 60 countries and supporting leading customers such as Powerscreen, Terex, Wirtgen, McCloskey, Astec Industries, Sandvik and CDE.
The group’s success to date has been born out of a philosophy of staying close to its customers. With a growing customer base in the region and increasing political uncertainty / export restrictions, manufacturing ‘in America for America’ was a natural strategic move. Smiley Monroe has all the pieces in place to be producing in the United States by January 2020.
“With the political uncertainty both in the UK and beyond, protecting our export sales is paramount to growing the business and safe-guarding jobs in Northern Ireland,” said Chris Monroe, the group’s global sales director. “Having a base in the United States will shorten lead times for customers and help us be more competitive in the tough U.S. market. Removing barriers to trade will fast track our ambitious growth plans to increase turnover by 50% over the next three years.”
Proximity to major customers, an available workforce combined with the financial and logistical assistance offered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky were the deciding factors when the base was chosen for Smiley Monroe Inc. The company will be working closely with Simpson County in the coming months to recruit a core team of production operatives and support staff with employee numbers set to expand to 30 over the next five years as the operation ramps up.
Smiley Monroe are no strangers to global expansion, with the new American facility mimicking the company’s successful India-based factory. Initially this plant will produce the company’s core product: Endless conveyor belts as well as Zip Clip, a mechanically fastened replacement belt. Many support services and non-core products will still be provided from Smiley Monroe’s Northern Ireland headquarters which will continue to service its local, International and European customers.