WATERTOWN — A $5.5 million major expansion that will lead to a one-third increase in production is slated to begin this spring at the Roth Industries Inc. facility in the city’s industrial park on South Bellew Avenue.
John C, Pezzi, the company’s vice president of operations, said the 7,000-square-foot addition to its existing manufacturing plant is similar to an earlier addition completed in 2016.
The addition will house a third blow molding machine at the facility and add eight new positions to the existing workforce of 25 employees, he said. The project also includes construction of a 10,000-square-foot storage building.
“It’s a big project for us,” he said.
It will be the fourth expansion at the nearly 69,000-square-foot facility in the City Center Industrial Park since it opened in 2007.
Some minor work inside the facility is scheduled to start next week. The new part of the facility should begin operation in 2022 after the blow molding machine is made in Germany and shipped in crates and boxes to here for reassembly, he said.
“It’s quite an effort,” Mr. Pezzi said.
The company makes mainly plastic highway barriers at the facility. It operates around the clock Mondays through Saturdays. The Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency also have been working with Roth and another company in the industrial park, Renzi Food Service, to move a used rail spur that would benefit both companies.
Relocating the rail line would help Renzi move forward with a five-year expansion plan that has been stalled because its food distribution center is landlocked, while it would allow for easier access for shipments of plastic resin into the manufacturing plant at Roth Industries.
It would make it easier for Roth to get resin from the rail spur to its mold-blowing equipment.
Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., said the rail spur has been completed and is just waiting for an inspection by CSX railroad before it can be used.
Renzi Brothers and the city are planning to add a second entrance into the industrial park. Plans call for constructing an extension of Waterman Drive to the west and connecting up at Coleman Avenue, where the new entrance would be created.
Renzi approached the city about the second entrance to ease truck traffic in and out of the industrial park, said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director. The city’s Planning Department and Engineering office are working on the infrastructure improvements.
As part of its five-year expansion plan, Renzi plans to expand its administrative offices and make improvements to its truck parking lot and warehouse space at its facility.
Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said last week that Renzi has expressed the need for the second entrance and road extension to open up the company’s access in the industrial park.
Helping with the additional offices also is crucial, he said.
“We have to make sure they stay here,” he said.
Roth Industries, a family-owned business established in Germany more than 60 years ago, has 1,100 employees and locations in more than 40 countries. Roth entered the North American market in 1997 and then moved to Watertown from Rhode Island about 15 years ago, partly because of its proximity to Canada.
The company also has a plant in Syracuse, where another 25 employees work and septic tanks and other products are made in the former General Motors plant in Salina.