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Awesome Products Still Expanding in West Memphis
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 · 12:00 am
The bottles are branded “awesome,” but the primary ingredient in the household cleaners produced by Awesome Products is something much more common—water, and lots of it.
The California-based company recently expanded its West Memphis operations yet again by adding a 600,000-gallon tank Farm at its main facility on E. Broadway and 7th St. The 13 towering tanks, which allow the facility to draw and store up to 10 million pounds of water from the municipal system during off-peak hours, were installed over the summer.
Awesome owner and president Loksarang Dinkar Hardas was in West Memphis this week to meet with suppliers, including representatives of Dow Chemical Company. On Monday, he hosted West Memphis Mayor William Johnson for a tour of the 728,000-square-foot facility that houses manufacturing, warehousing and shipping operations.
The tanks, repurposed milk silos purchased from the dairy industry, represent a $ 6 million investment. Expanded access to plentiful, high-pressure water has enabled the addition of seven production lines, 35 additional workers and a 40 percent increase in production, Hardas said.
“In manufacturing, 10 million pounds of anything is a big deal,” he said. “When the suppliers come here and see these storage tanks, the blending tanks added since their last visit and the warehouse full, they will be impressed. It really is just unbelievable.”
The continued expansion by Awesome Products is something West Memphis officials are more than happy to believe in.
“Awesome is a thriving example of what doing business in West Memphis can look like,” Mayor Johnson said. “Low operating costs, central location and a business friendly environment make sense for any business. We’re excited to watchthe continued success of Awesome Products and proud to see a lot of it happening right here.”
Founded in 1992, Awesome Products manufactures laundry detergent, fabric softener and household bleach in facilities across the country. The company owns and operates more than 1 million square feet of manufacturing andwarehouse-distribution space in Eastern Arkansas, including an additional 167,000-square-foot plant on Jefferson St. in West Memphis and a 280,000-square-foot facility in Marked Tree.
The company cut the ribbon on the massive facility at East Broadway and Seventh Street about three years ago. Hardas attributes the company’s success to quality products, solid business planning and financial responsibility.
“We have accomplished all this growth with zero debt,” Hardas says. “We could easily have a $20 million line of credit, but we don’t borrow money. Our strength is in how we pay.”
The food-grade milk silos are overkill for simply storing water, Hardas says, but the low price and high quality make them an ideal solution. With the need for similar tanks at many Awesome facilities, he regularly checks with connections in the dairy industry for news of used tanks becoming available.
The idea of recycling equipment from one industry to use in another is appealing to Hardas. And the fact that it’s tied to the success of a company committed to doing business in West Memphis is appealing to city leaders.
“Government and corporate leaders everywhere are focused on “Made in the U.S.A.” efforts right now,” West Memphis Economic Development Director Ward Wimbish said. “Wal-Mart pledging to buy billions worth of American-made products over 10 years is great. But seeing a company like Awesome already doing it—and doing it well—is proof that it is really possible.
Hardas points to the tens of millions of containers of liquid bleach, detergent and degreaser shipped from Awesome’s West Memphis operation—produced locally from contents to container—and takes a more local viewpoint.
“West Memphis is a hidden jewel,” he said. “This isn’t just made in America. It’s made in West Memphis.”