WATERTOWN — Workers have begun assembling drawers and cabinets for vehicles at Canadian manufacturer EZ Stak’s new, larger Watertown plant, where it relocated last month to expand its operations.
The Kingston, Ontario, company, which makes modular interior storage systems for commercial fleet trucks, vans and trailers, relocated to the former Packaging Corp. of America facility, 20400 Old Rome, Hounsfield, in mid-December. After about a week of relocating equipment, materials and 24 workers, EZ Stak began operations at the new location on Dec. 23, said plant and supply chain manager Matthew Coltart. Two workers still perform powder coating at the old location, but Mr. Coltart said the company will begin transferring that operation to the new plant at the end of the month.
Ara Nicholson, continuous improvement manager, said having more space improves workflow, particularly by allowing workers to eliminate steps in their assembly process. The new plant is 55,000 square feet, more than five times larger than the company’s former 10,000-square-foot facility, with more offices and more space on the plant floor. It includes two active bays for shipping product and space to install storage units into vehicles.
“We have the space to properly flow material through the assembly,” said Mark Ostrander, production manager. “In the old facility, it was very congested and it slowed down the flow.”
The move follows EZ Stak receiving $1.24 million through the state Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The investment was approved to help finance the purchase of the former box manufacturing facility, renovations and new equipment, as well as create 15 jobs over several years. Company representatives declined to confirm whether the property has been purchased or to discuss the acquisition.
The new equipment the manufacturer plans to purchase, including an automated sheet metal processor, an air compressor, warehouse racking and upgraded powder coating machinery, should not only help improve efficiency, but also allow workers to perform more functions typically reserved for the company’s Kingston headquarters, Mr. Coltart said. The company will soon begin renovating the plant.
“(The new space) allows us to be able to control our growth,” he said. “As for our capabilities to upfit and install, it provided a needed segregation for the work, but keeping it in the same house.”
EZ Stak opened its first Watertown plant, the company’s second location, in February 2018.
At the time, the manufacturer had only been able to recruit three workers to assemble its products, an issue that limited its desired functions for the plant. The company has since grown its staff almost nine-fold.
“We’ve been very pleased with the quality of workers we’ve been able to hire,” Mr. Coltart said.