The HVAC industry weathered the pandemic well — well enough that a number of HVAC manufacturers have opened new facilities and upgraded old ones since the beginning of 2021. The benefits of these new and upgraded facilities will trickle down the industry so that both contractors and the end user will see better products.
Uponor North America, for example, began construction in August on adding another 57,000 square feet to its Lakeville Distribution Center, which was originally built in 2009. The project is scheduled to be completed in June 2022.
“As part of our five-year master plan to grow Uponor’s manufacturing operations, the strategic investments we have made in expanding our manufacturing capabilities will help ensure the demands of HVAC contractors are met,” said Jon Sillerud, vice president, operations, Uponor North America. “As the HVAC market surges, expanding our operations will better position Uponor to deliver product accurately and on time, helping HVAC contractors meet the scheduling needs of homebuilders and building owners and, ultimately, their clients.” Uponor is also adding 25,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its Hutchinson facility, estimated to cost $5 million and to be completed in May 2022.
Research and Development
Johnson Controls invested nearly $15 million in upgrading its testing lab facilities at a residential HVAC manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas.
The lab updates feature seven 20x60-foot test chambers, a new automated heating lab and test stands, advanced model shop equipment, and a spacious transit table building with rain capabilities. The upgrades and expansions in the lab will help Johnson Controls ensure that new products are developed to meet or exceed efficiency standards, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refrigerant transition that will be required of all HVAC equipment manufactured by Jan. 1, 2025.
“The $15 million investment in the Johnson Controls residential HVAC testing lab allows for Johnson Controls to meet new safety and efficiency standards more effectively, and it offers the flexibility of testing the systems under any environmental condition and virtually any field application scenario that may be requested,” said Doug Dorrough, director of lab operations, Johnson Controls. “The lab upgrades directly benefits end users by ensuring product safety, performance, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.”
Boosts in Indoor Air Quality Demand
As demand for healthy indoor air grew as a result of the pandemic, Aprilaire accelerated its expansion plans. The company nearly doubled its employee count (reaching about 700) and added an 110,000-square-foot distribution and shipping center and a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Aprilaire plans to add another 100 positions before the end of 2021. The new 110,000-square-foot distribution and shipping center opened in Jan. 2021. The 60,000-square-foot manufacturing facility was completed in May 2021.
“Today, in the shadow of a global pandemic, we believe our mission of making homes healthy is more important than ever,” said Dave Reifsteck, Aprilaire vice president of sales. “The investments we are making in our facilities, products, and people will benefit distribution, contractors, and consumers through operational excellence, security, innovation, and enhanced health in the home.”
Tools and Comfort Products
Milwaukee Tool announced a new manufacturing facility in Mississippi, a $7 million investment that will create 1,200 jobs and is anticipated to open in Nov. 2021. The 357,000-square-facility will act as an expansion of Milwaukee’s current facility in Jackson, Mississippi.
“At the core of everything we do at Milwaukee Tool is our dedication to deliveringdisruptive solutions that driveenhanced safety and productivityfor our users,” said Steve Richman, Milwaukee Tool Group president. “Thenew Clinton facility, as well as our ongoing investments in U.S. operations and manufacturing,are critical toensuring we cancontinuously deliver thisinnovation to our end users and distribution partners with speed and agility.”
Cold Point Corporation was purchased by The Whalen Company in June of 2017. Recently, The Whalen Company announced the completion of a new Cold Point facility. The facility is 50,000 square feet, which is 33,000 square feet more than the previous facility, and the new site will also have two additional lines, plus housing the company’s aftermarket engineering department, office space, customer training facility, and a new warehouse area.
"Our new state of the art facility will increase efficiency, quality of our products, and reduce lead time,” said Sam Vivirito, aftermarket sales manager at Cold Point. “We are all looking forward to this new chapter for Cold Point.”
Manufacturers are not the only ones in the HVAC industry growing their locations. Cochrane Supply officially launched a new store and training center in July 2021, located in Indianapolis. Scott Cochrane, president and CEO, Cochrane Supply & Engineering, said that investing in buildings like the Indianapolis location allows the company to train, support and deliver new technology options into the regions its covers.
“Our system, once in place, will allow contractors and building owners to take advantage of new technology at a faster pace, typically lowering the cost of installation while increasing the value of the system installed,” said Cochrane.