HMS Mfg. to Open Manufacturing Plant at Little Rock Port, Hire 90

From left, HMS President Janet Sofy and HMS Vice President Nancy Negohosian.
From left, HMS President Janet Sofy and HMS Vice President Nancy Negohosian. (Sarah Campbell-Miller)

HMS Mfg. Co. of Troy, Michigan, announced Wednesday that it will open a 550,000-SF injection molding facility at the Port of Little Rock, creating about 90 jobs over the next two years.

The company is a global manufacturer of houseware products, including those under the brands Hefty, Home Logic and Stola.

HMS bought and will renovate an existing building at 6901 Lindsey Road. It expects to begin production this summer.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who attended the event along with Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott and Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, said the company was one of six he called on the first day of his second term.

"It will create over 80 new full-time jobs with a high-paying wage rate," Hutchinson said. "It will be a $20 million investment right here at the port, renovating a current facility." 

HMS President Janet Sofy declined to disclose a salary range for the new jobs but said the company would hire for positions across the board, from equipment operators to managers.

Sofy said the plant will be the first where it owns — and doesn't lease — its own manufacturing equipment, allowing it to take advantage of new technologies. 

"This is the first time we are going to be manufacturing on our own, and you could say it's a little scary at times," she said. "It's a big endeavor, so we're counting on partners along the way to keep us strong."

Sofy said HMS searched three states for a new location to accommodate its growth, which has been outpacing manufacturing capabilities. HMS operates warehouses in Ohio, Texas and Kentucky, and has an overseas office in Hong Kong in addition to its corporate headquarters in Michigan.

"If you're wondering: Why Arkansas? Look around this [crowded] room right now," she said. "The support we got here was overwhelming. You became the first contender, to be honest with you, because there were three buildings we could use in the entire United States.

"So that is really a testament to intermodal transportation in the area. It's a testament to the energy company. It's a testament to the state, to the city. … So the ease of doing business in Little Rock is ultimately the reason why we came. We also chose Little Rock because we felt supported by a phenomenal workforce."

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has offered the company the following state incentives: 

  • Create Rebate, an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs added by a company, for five years.
  • Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project.
  • $500,000 from the governor's Quick Action Closing Fund.

Nancy Negohosian, vice president of HMS Mfg. Co. and Sofy's sister, said the public-private partnership was key. 

"It's so important that we have this collaboration between the private and public sector down here in Arkansas," she said. "And it helped make this happen. That's the best way to operate, we feel."

Sofy also said a highlight of the project is that rail cars can pull right up to the door of the facility. 

"With the renovation, we want to make sure that we have the latest and greatest in automation, in terms of, we're in the fourth Industrial Revolution right now. We want robotics, automated reality," she said. "Everything has to come in so that we can use our employees as trade and technical [labor] instead of physical labor."