SEMO Box near completion of $600,000 expansion

Monday, February 28, 2005

SEMO Box Co., the Cape Girardeau manufacturer that produces corrugated boxes -- some for shipping and others that sit on grocery store shelves across America -- has nearly completed a $600,000 expansion that will add 40,000 square feet of new warehouse space that later could be used for increased production.

"Business is good," said Stephen Powderly, who owns the company with his brothers, Tim and Greg. "We're very happy about that. I should knock on wood when I say that, but we're excited."

Powderly said the expansion will almost double the size of the main production facility in Nash Road Industrial Park. The company -- started by their father, A.J. Powderly, 35 years ago this April -- operates a 50,000-square-foot production facility at 4921 Nash Road.

The additional room will be used as warehouse space, Powderly said. The company still uses its old facility, 32,000 square feet at 4726 Nash Road, for warehouse space, but it just wasn't enough. SEMO Box moved into the current facility in 2001.

"As our customer base grows, we've needed additional space because of customer requirements," Powderly said. "Substantially, it will be used for storing customer goods. But later down the road we see it as an area we can use for production and putting in new equipment."

They've also brought new equipment online within the last six months that has helped increase production, which means they are filling box orders faster than they can move them out of warehouse, Powderly said. In other cases, companies order the boxes before they are needed and require a place to be stored until they do.

SEMO Box employs about 35 people, Powderly said. The company manufactures and ships boxes from the West Coast to the East Coast. Some go overseas. National accounts include Mid Continental Nail, Cooper B-Line, Dippin' Dots Ice Cream and Colloid Co. Some local accounts are Custom Industries, US Poly and RM Coco.

The boxes are for a variety of uses. Federal Mogul of Malden, Mo., for example, uses the boxes to ship its automotive pistons across the country. SEMO Box also makes the packaging for Special Kitty, a kitty litter that is on the shelves of every Wal-Mart in the country.

Contrend Inc. of Cape Girardeau is the construction company doing the job. Project manager Garry Nation said the expansion is on the south end of the existing facility. He estimated that the work, which began in October, will be done in about three weeks.

Greg Powderly said that they are seeing a business boom because the company has always stuck to the principles of the owners' father.

"He was a great box man," Powderly said. "We still do business the old-fashion way: We earn it. We're knocking on new doors constantly, and we don't lose business once we get it. We've seen tremendous growth, but we've had to work our tails off to get it."

smoyers@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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