ELKHART — The last time a company operated at 3221 Magnum Drive, it quickly went from hope for a new future for Elkhart to a symbol of shattered dreams: Think, the electric car maker touted as the future of Elkhart manufacturing was out of here within two years.
This time, though, the building's new owners bring a solid track record of growth with them.
“We're very excited for the opportunity to move into a building that's going to better suit our needs. We anticipate a great future for Kem Krest, and this is only the beginning,” said Tamara Adame, marketing manager for the locally owned company, which manages supply chains for other companies.
“Business has been booming,” Adame said.
In 2005 the company had 31 employees, Adame said. “As of this year we have over 100 employees.” The company isn't ready to talk about how many jobs their expansion plans entail, she said.
They started off working with original equipment manufacturer General Motors, “then we launched into the ag/industrial business with Valspar, then we landed a contract with Hyundai Motor America. We do work with Ford,” she said.
“We also started Kem Krest Defense as well. We really have been blessed,” she said.
“We purchased the new building because we have some other OEMs in the pipeline,” she said, though the company isn't ready to reveal those details. “We definitely are going to need additional space,” Adame said.
The company split off from KIK and moved into its headquarters on Toledo Road in 2008. “We were basically at capacity, so we added our Bristol facility,” Adame said.
David Weaver, the company's chief financial officer, said in its written announcement, “We continue to see new opportunities in both auto and defense. This new facility gives us the flexibility and capacity for future growth.”
Amish Shah, president of the company, said, “This is more than just a building. It represents our home and further solidifies our roots in Elkhart.”
In the announcement, the company pointed out it recently extended its Hyundai contract by five years, and needs additional office and warehouse space. Kem Krest will invest more than $4.3 million in the new headquarters.
“We will be moving to the Think building probably in the first quarter,” Adame said.
Three years ago, Norwegian-based Think moved into the empty plant on Magnum Drive that used to house an RV supplier. The move was a deal touted by company officials and politicians on both sides of the aisle as something that would bring 400 jobs and a customer for area suppliers.
It was two years ago that the first Elkhart-assembled Think City cars were delivered to the state.
The Norwegian parent company went bankrupt last year, though, after low sales and recalls.
Kem Krest isn't worried about any bad luck coming with the building, Adame said. She pointed out that as Think flashed and then sizzled out in Elkhart, Kem Krest experienced growth in a time that wouldn't be expected: when its No. 1 customer, General Motors, went through bankruptcy and reorganization.
“We really have been fortunate,” she said.
Editors note: A Kem Krest representative's statement paraphrased at the end of this article has been rewritten for clarification.