Imperial Brown, a leading manufacturer of custom walk-in coolers and freezers, will open a manufacturing plant in Tucson in 2023.
Tucson will be the company’s fourth plant, with other facilities in Portland, OR, Salisbury, NC, and Prague, OK. Imperial Brown is working with Harsch Investment Properties, a real estate development and investment firm, based in Portland, OR but with significant holdings in Tucson. Together, the companies are building a 99,000-square-foot stand-alone building at the corner of E. Medina Road and Brosius Avenue.
Construction of the state-of-the-art facility is set to begin in Q1 of 2022. Imperial Brown has already relocated staff to the Tucson area, to assist with preconstruction and construction phases. Once completed, the company plans to hire approximately 100 employee-owners at the new location at Tucson Airport Distribution Center. The economic impact of the new operation will be $225 million over the next 10 years.
“Tucson was selected after a year-long survey of potential locations in the Southwest. It beat out other cities in Arizona, because of its balanced mix of climate, demographics, cost of living and population density. The Tucson factory will be focused on bringing IB’s quality products and unparalleled service levels to the underserved Southwestern region,” said Justin Sandall, president of Imperial Brown. “With the addition of the Tucson factory to complement its existing factories, IB will now have 2/3 of the US population within a 500-mile radius of its plants. With rising freight costs and a very bulky product, this level of distributed manufacturing is a strategic advantage for the company’s clients, many of whom have very large, national footprints and growth plans.”
Imperial Brown has experienced steady growth, since the merger of the OR and NC manufacturing facilities nine years ago. In 2012, Imperial Manufacturing of Portland, OR, acquiredW.A. Brown & Son of Salisbury, NC, and merged the two companies into Imperial Brown. With the merger, IB developed the industry’s first and only hybrid construction technology – blending methods used on both coasts, to achieve the best of both world results for its customers.
Subsequently, the company purchased Artic Temp in Prague, OK, and has also moved into a new facility in Gresham, OR – more than doubling the size of that factory. It has added and replaced technology and equipment in all facilities, reducing the manufacturing footprint and redundancy, leveraging technology to increase efficiency and enhance product flow. The result has been staggering growth in market share – including being one of very few manufacturers to grow during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
“We are honored to be part of the Tucson business community,” said Jordan Schnitzer, president of Harsch Investment Properties. “Being a family-held company, we have the unique advantage of being able to buy and grow in communities like Tucson to help bring new businesses and employment opportunities to the area, one project at a time.”
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Imperial Brown and its new Tucson facility as our first build-to-suit tenant in Arizona. We were able to deliver the company a facility that meets the current and future demands of their business,” said Bill Rodewald, senior vice president of Harsch Investment Properties. “Pre-leasing Building C during the pandemic shows the strength of Tucson Airport Distribution Center’s Class-A specifications, design and flexibility.”
The facility will be completed in January 2023 and will feature 32-foot clear height, 72-90-foot-deep truck courts with trailer storage, ESFR fire protection, 105 car parking spots, 24 dock positions, and eight grade doors. VLMK Engineering + Design designed the building and Chasse Building Team was selected as the general contractor.
“The economy in Tucson and Southern Arizona continues to thrive, even in a pandemic environment,” said Joe Snell, president & CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “We’re thrilled to be selected once again as a location of choice for a well-established, growing manufacturer.”
The Tucson Airport Distribution Center development site is located in the City of Tucson with close proximity to I-10, I- 19, and the Tucson International Airport.
“We’re very excited to welcome Imperial Brown to the City of Tucson,” said Mayor Regina Romero, City of Tucson. “We place a high value on the addition of manufacturing jobs in our community and appreciate the investment that both Imperial Brown and Harsch are making in Tucson.”
“Fostering and supporting manufacturing jobs is a key growth strategy for our region,” said Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator. “We wish Imperial Brown success and stand ready to provide them any assistance they may require filling these new positions.”
“We’re thrilled Imperial Brown chose Tucson to build their state-of-the-art walk-in cooler and freezer manufacturing facility,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of theArizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona’s low cost of doing business, modern infrastructure and highly-skilled workforce provide an ideal environment for manufacturing facilities such as this. We look forward to supporting Imperial Brown’s success long into the future.”
Project partners include Sun Corridor Inc., Pima County, City of Tucson, Arizona Commerce Authority, Harsch Investment Properties and the Economic Collaborative of NorthernArizona.
Harsch was represented by Jesse Blum and Alex Demeroutis of Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR. Imperial Brown was represented by Stuart Skaug (Portland) and Tim Healy (Tucson) of CBRE.