Expansion plans also an investment into the community

Published Monday, June 27, 2011  by   Full-Fill Industries, LLC

The following appeared in the Danville (Illinois) Commercial-News on Sunday, June 26, 2011. 

To the Editor:

The recent announcement of our new strategic manufacturing agreement with ConAgra Foods was not only great news for our company and employees, but also for our community.

In late April, Full-Fill Industries revealed expansion plans that included constructing three new production lines and building additional warehouse space. The project also means Full-Fill will hire approximately 150 additional management, administrative and production employees -- bringing our total workforce to 250.

While we are a private company owned by a family who has lived for generations in this area, we realized the public had questions. We wanted to share as much information as we could about the project.

ConAgra Foods officials approached our company to see if we were interested in working on a contract manufacturing agreement. We negotiated a fair contract -- as we have with all of our cooking spray customers over the years.

We were not involved in the decision to close ConAgra's plant in Rossville. Those considerations and conclusions about that facility were handled within ConAgra's management team.

We were aware, though, that ConAgra considered many options for their manufacturing business. They could have selected another manufacturer out of state. Our efforts to secure the contract, therefore, became more than just getting new business. We knew this deal had implications for the overall Vermilion County employment situation as well. We had an opportunity to save 150 of 164 jobs being lost.

We believe our past performance, our extensive knowledge of aerosol manufacturing and our plant’s proximity to suppliers and distribution routes made Full-Fill Industries attractive to ConAgra.

As the negotiations progressed, Vermilion Advantage offered to assist with some incentives to help our company secure the contract and to help the community's overall economic picture, just as they had provided to ConAgra’s Rossville facility.

We were not interested in asking for tax abatements. We felt we needed to pay our fair share of taxes to the various local governments and schools -- including the village of Henning and Vermilion County. However, we learned some state funding might be available to help with local infrastructure improvements and job training assistance.

By adding these positions, our company also qualified for some tax credits for purchasing building materials from companies in Illinois and for minimal relief for utility taxes recently increased by the state.

Overall, our family decided to invest in excess of $12 million of our personal monies into the project. We would like to express that no public funds are being used to finance any of the construction costs or purchase of equipment.

Meanwhile, the expansion project will have additional positive impacts for the area beyond the additional jobs, including:

A new $1.2 million road improvement project on Main Street in Henning. The project will include new storm water sewers and sidewalks.

A new water source for the Bismarck-Henning Fire Protection District. During a recent house fire in the village, water had to be hauled in by tanker truck. Our project includes a new 2-acre fire pond and two diesel water pumps for our sprinkler system. We will be adding an outside hydrant for use by the fire district when needed.

The launch of a community service initiative called "Propelling Our Community" -- where area non-profits can apply for company contributions to help their good causes. We believe strongly in helping the organizations that help our employees and their families.

Our family started Full-Fill Industries almost 12 years ago with four employees. We purchased and renovated the dilapidated Henning High School building and constructed our first production line hoping to land a few private label cooking spray customers. We expanded over the years at our own expense without public help, and maintained our family culture and commitment to excellence.

Today, the cooking sprays we produce for our customers are found in grocery stores and in restaurants around the world.

We believe Vermilion County is a great place to live and to raise our families. It also is an excellent community to operate a business. We have an outstanding workforce; and we have outstanding suppliers in the Danville area and throughout Illinois.

Once our project is completed and our three additional production lines become operational, Full-Fill Industries will be the largest supplier of cooking sprays in the United States -- with more than 180 million units being produced annually. Our entire community should be proud of that claim.

We are pleased that our family will continue to own and manage Full-Fill Industries. We look forward to working with ConAgra and all of our customers and to continue our partnership with our community.

David L. Clapp

Steven L. Clapp

Jonathon W. Clapp

Charles H. Clapp

Catherine S. Owen

Partners, Full-Fill Industries LLC