JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — With production having more than tripled in the past three years, Johnson City-based Crown Laboratories has bumped up against space constraints, despite its 190,000-square foot facility.
Those constraints will be alleviated by early 2023 after the construction of a $7.5 million, 60,000-square-foot building. The company will break ground on the expandable building, which will be separated from its current manufacturing facility by a breezeway, on Friday.
“If you think about the volume of production going through the plant three years ago, we were doing seven million units annualized,” CEO Jeff Bedard told News Channel 11 Tuesday. “This year, we’re going to be somewhere around 24 million.”
Bedard, who moved the tiny company into the large building off Lafe Cox Drive when it had four employees and $200,000 in annual revenue, said the last few years have seen both tremendous growth in Crown’s production for other companies and its development of new products of its own.
Those new products developed by a research and development team that’s been beefed up over the past couple years are just moving toward the production stage. In the meantime, racks of tubes, bottles, raw materials and outgoing finished products compete for floor space with the current production lines.
The new building will allow for nearly 5,000 additional pallet locations and allow for greater efficiency and better financial control over the entire production process.
“This 60,000 square feet is strictly going to be for racking and distribution, which will move it out of our manufacturing areas and allow us to add production lines and manufacturing capacity to the plant,” Bedard said.
The current production lines have capacity to run more units, but there hasn’t been space available for “new lines for new products,” he said. “It’s not more of the same, it’s diversification.”
Crown moved its corporate jobs to north Johnson City in 2019 and has grown its workforce there from 28 to 87. It also partnered with East Tennessee State University (ETSU), with Crown’s chief science officer and director of biological science earning adjunct faculty status last year as part of a collaboration to foster research activity.
“A lot of products came out of our own internal innovation, our R and D team developed these, and we’re going to be launching them commercially ourselves,” Bedard said.
The company has about 350 full-time employees total in Johnson City and 600 globally. Bedard said if the company-branded products have the success he expects them to, the warehouse is built in such a way that additional 20,000-foot sections can easily be added.
“I think there’s a real possibility of doubling its size over the next five years,” Bedard said.