CHARLOTTE, NC—Imperial Brown, a leading manufacturer of custom walk-in coolers and freezers, will open a manufacturing plant in Tucson, AZ, in 2023 at the city's Airport Distribution Center. 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 Tucson Airport Distribution Center. Project partners include Sun Corridor Inc., Pima County, City of Tucson, Arizona Commerce Authority, Harsch Investment Properties and the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona.
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. 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,” says Justin Sandall, president of Imperial Brown. “With the addition of the Tucson factory to complement its existing factories, IB will now have two-thirds 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, acquired W.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. 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.
The facility will be completed in January 2023 and feature 32-foot clear height, 72- to 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.
“We are thrilled Imperial Brown chose Tucson to build their state-of-the-art walk-in cooler and freezer manufacturing facility,” says Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona 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.”