KALAMAZOO -- Closet and storage system manufacturer Newell Rubbermaid says its Kalamazoo, MI, product design center is still scheduled to open in 2014 despite the recent sale of its hardware businesses. Plans for the 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art design center were announced earlier this year.
Last month Newell Rubbermaid said it would sell Amerock decorative cabinet and furniture hardware; Ashland window hardware; Bulldog picture hangers and Pegasystem pegboard and garage organizers; and Shur-Line painting tools, to Nova Capital.
To be located on the Kalamazoo campus of Western Michigan University's Business and Research Park, the center represents a $6.3 million investment, and will employ 100. Newell Rubbermaid is spending $2.3 million; the private economic development group Southwest Michigan First is investing $4 million for construction.
The move is part of a restructuring plan, as Newell Rubbermaid streamlines 15 global design centers into a single unit, so its designers can share new ideas and technologies across the company's various brands.
"Great design and creativity is the difference between a standard product and one that is beautiful in every way—and drives consumer preference," said Chuck Jones, Newell Rubbermaid's chief design and research and development officer.
"Our new design center will be a best-in-class facility that enables us to attract the best international design talent to work on a wonderful portfolio of leading brands. Our brand studios and immersion labs will foster growth ideas as designers collaborate with marketing and R&D on great innovation."
Noting Kalamazoo's proximity to a hub of design talent with companies such as Herman Miller, Steelcase and Whirlpool, Newell Rubbermaid says it will be able to add depth in new design specialties with this centralized global center.
Newell Rubbermaid's 2012 sales were approximately $5.9 billion, and its core portfolio brands include closets, kitchen organization supplies, Irwin Tools, and Lenox bandsaw blades.
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