Three’s a charm. Maybe four will be, too.
Architectural glass manufacturer J.E. Berkowitz broke ground for the expansion of its Pedricktown, N.J., facility last Thursday, and although it’s the first time the building has actually expanded, it’s the third time in eight years the company has held a ceremony in the same exact place.
In June of 2006, J.E. Berkowitz held a groundbreaking ceremony for its current 200,000-square-foot headquarters, and in June of 2010, the company held a commissioning ceremony for the installation of 7,200 solar panels on the building’s roof.
In June of 2014, it was all about the 53,000-square-foot addition that will be built for the next four-plus months.
So, what’s going to be the occasion June 2018?
“That was the joke (Thursday),” says J.E. Berkowitz president Arthur Berkowitz, adding that he hopes in four more years, he’s standing in the same spot “announcing more big news” regarding the company.
For now, the current big news is big enough. And it’s not only big for the company and its employees, but for the community, as well. Berkowitz says he expects the expansion will add 20-25 jobs, providing roughly a 10 percent increase in employment at the facility.
J.E. Berkowitz began planning the project last fall and got involved with the economic development department, which saw the company as an asset. The bank committed and the planning commission fast-tracked the approval.
The project was approved in March, broke ground last week and is expected to finish up by the end of the year.
According to Berkowitz, the company expects the building to be ready for equipment by November 1. The equipment, which is already purchased, is slated for delivery by December 1, and the company hopes to fire it all up by January 1.
The primary reason for the expansion is to house a jumbo insulating glass line—the facility’s fourth IG line—that is “equipped with an online argon gas-filling press, online edge deletion, and a robotic applicator for our recently announced JEB 3SEAL spacer system,” according to a company release.
“Plans also are being made to consolidate all warehousing for finished goods at our facility for better operational efficiency,” adds Berkowitz.
As for Thursday’s ceremony, the event was short but sweet. Tents and umbrellas were required to keep the approximately 175 participants—including employees, friends, family, local officials, bankers and builders—dry.
Berkowitz spoke briefly, as did his 87-year-old father Edwin, who was the second generation of the company. Edwin’s father, Jacob, founded the company in 1920, and Arthur joined the family business in the 1970s.
“It’s exciting, this is our 94th year in business,” says Berkowitz, who has been president of the company since the mid-1980s. “We made it through a difficult recession and found a way to hang in there. Now, the market is growing, and we want to grow with it.”