New Manufacturing Plant Being Built in Lake Wales Florida
ADVANCED DRAINAGE SYSTEMS PLANS PIPE MANUFACTURING PLANT IN LAKE WALES
Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) is entering Polk County in a big way, building an innovative advanced pipe manufacturing facility in Lake Wales that will provide 200 jobs at salaries that are approximately 15% above average annual wage within the city.
Polk County’s central location made the decision to build the third ADS manufacturing plant in Florida easy, said Brian King, the company’s executive vice president of marketing and sustainability.
“Florida is an important market for us,” he said. “Polk County is in the center of the state, and from here we can serve the entire state. We have two existing manufacturing plants, in Sebring and Winter Garden, and this is in the middle of those two.”
King said there were two other reasons to locate in Lake Wales:
- Access to a rail line. “Rail is an easier way to bring materials into the facility, so a rail spur was key. The history of Lake Wales and the railroad was important.”
- Access to a good labor pool and skilled talent.
About Advanced Drainage Systems
Advanced Drainage Systems is a leading provider of innovative water management solutions in the stormwater and onsite septic wastewater industries.
The company wants to be a good community citizen and keep residents up to date on the project. To do so, it has created a Lake Wales page on its website: https://www.adspipe.com/lake-wales
“The city of Lake Wales is delighted to partner with ADS to bring this new, innovative facility to our community,” said James Slaton, Lake Wales city manager. “We are confident the company will bring opportunity, responsible business growth and needed prosperity to our region.”
Skip Alford, President & CEO of the Lake Wales Area Chamber & EDC, said his organizations are “thrilled” to welcome ADS to Lake Wales. “Company leaders and representatives of ADS have already begun demonstrating a genuine willingness to be great community partners as we prepare to host what will be their ‘flagship’ operating location in North America. As the manufacturing leader of their industry, ADS will bring well-paying and much needed jobs, economic advantages and essential revenue to Lake Wales, and to our region of Polk County.”
What ADS Manufactures
Technically, ADS manufactures corrugated thermoplastic pipe that is used for stormwater management.
“Those pipes are used anywhere pipes are needed to take stormwater away from where you don’t want it,” King said. “They can be used under residential subdivisions, schools, hospitals, parking lots, retail development – any impervious surface. Eventually, water gets into a pipe.”
Many of the pipes will end up in the hands of the Florida Department of Transportation, where they are used under roads. “There are a lot of roads being built in and around Florida, which is one of our biggest states from a sales perspective, and the fastest growing.”
The pipes are replacing concrete and metal, which has been used for hundreds of years, he said. This technology is relatively new at 55 years.
Advanced manufacturing will be used in the new plant, providing better jobs for employees, King said.
“In the past, there was a lot of physical labor, which involved rolling big pieces of pipe around, moving it on and off equipment and the like. Automation makes that work a lot more technically driven, using computers and controls.”
Employees, who will make an average of $55,000 to $60,000 a year, plus benefits and incentives, will learn new skills centered on material handling and automated processes, he said.
“They will receive more training to learn new capabilities and continue to develop so they can move up into better jobs and make more money. We will provide a better-quality work environment for people working in our facilities.”
The estimated average salary – an average of the 200 jobs that will eventually be there – is 15% above the average annual wage in Lake Wales and does not include overtime. Incentives are based on safety.
“That salary is good for the areas, good for the community and good for us,” King said.
Advanced manufacturing also improves quality and drives consistency, he said. “Quality and consistency go up and the cost comes down because we can make more product.”
So far, work has been done to prepare the land, including removing diseased orange trees. ADS plans to break ground in spring 2024 and open in the first half of 2025.
From a value perspective, the pipe ADS manufactures costs less than concrete and lasts longer.
“The average piece of concrete is 8 to 10 feet long; pipe is 20 feet. So, it goes faster, with less disruption. You don’t want digging up a highway to take forever and disrupt flow,” King said.
In addition, the pipe has fewer joints, which reduces the chance of leaks that can cause potholes, he said.
“Our product can last up to 100 years. When you look at the total cost of the investment – the cost of the pipes, the service we provide, the life of the product – it’s a really good spend for the local DOT, government, housing manufacturers,” he said. “And it’s maintenance-free for up to 100 years.”
Protecting the Environment
ADS cares about the environment and wants to educate the public on recycling, King said. Last year, it used 550 million pounds of recycled material – the water and detergent jugs, etc., that you put in your recycling bins – to manufacture the pipes.
“Our goal is to use 1 billion pounds of recycled plastic. It performs as well as virgin plastic, so why would we not want to help solve some of the recycling problems? For us, the problem is there is not enough. We are very vocal that we really like recycling. But only 40% of Americans have access to curbside recycling. We have a recycling partnership to try to improve access to recycling.”