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New use found for old Pamida store

Federal Foam Technologies, Inc. President Wyman Smith reported that his company is buying the old Pamida store in New Richmond and will convert the space into a warehouse.

After sitting empty for two and a half years, the former Pamida building appears to have a new owner.

Federal Foam Technologies Inc. in New Richmond reportedly closed on the purchase last week. The growing industrial company will use the space for a warehouse.

According to Federal Foam President Wyman Smith, the company researched the possibility of building an addition to its existing building in the Business and Technical Park.

But the cost for that project was higher than the price of the existing Pamida building.

After talking with city officials, Smith said, the process for rezoning the commercial property to light industrial appeared not to be a stumbling block.

Federal Foam needs more space in its main manufacturing facility, due to expanding business opportunities that will occur next spring, Smith said.

We'll be ramping up our second shift, and we'll be starting a third shift closer to the end of the year," he said. "Shortly after the first of the year, we should be adding more people."

The company has been leasing warehouse space on Knowles Avenue, and have used a portion of its manufacturing plant for a warehouse, but officials wanted to consolidate its warehouse in one location. The fact that the Pamida building was so close to Federal Foam's campus was seen as a huge plus, Smith said.

"This building is sitting just across the street," Smith said. "It was convenient."

Smith said the roof of the Pamida building needs to be replaced, and several modifications (a new sprinkler system and new loading dock) are required, but the structure is pretty much ready for use by Federal Foam.

"At first we thought the building was too short for us to use," Smith noted. "But with some modifications to our storage racks we made it work."

Federal Foam considered an expansion in 2008, but when the economy turned sour the plans were put on hold.

"All of a sudden, the economy just tanked," Smith recalled. "We put everything on hold. That was the best thing we could have done, seeing as how bad last year was."

Smith said the company's bottomline had improved steadily since then.

"With our new programs and new customers, it's projected that we'll be back to close to our 2007 levels," Smith said. "If the economy does any kind of upturn soon, we'll be back up above our previous levels."

The great thing about the expanding customer base is that many of the new orders will mean consistent orders for the next seven to 10 years.

"It's nice to have some things in the long term, rather than going from order to order," he said. "It's fun to be dealing with a growth issue rather than the shrinkage issues we had last year."

The company has already placed orders for new equipment that will be arriving in the coming months. The equipment will be placed in the space where the current warehouse is located in the manufacturing plant, allowing for more product to be produced.

As for commuters who presently use the Pamida parking lot as a Park 'n Ride, Smith said people shouldn't worry. Federal Foam has little use for most of the parking lot, so people should still be able to use it.

"I don't see that as a problem moving forward," he said.

Federal Foam Technologies is a complete custom fabricator of flexible cellular and plastic materials with operations capable of providing engineering and research and development services.