(Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer)
(Staff photo by Seth Grundhoefer)
Madison Precision Products on Wednesday announced a $16 million expansion that will focus on consolidating machinery and increasing production.

The company, which was incorporated in 1987 and began in 1989, produces precision aluminum alloy engine components for vehicles.

The 72,681-square-foot expansion, which is expected to open in March 2014, will be added to the west end of the facility. It will provide space for the company to more than double production of the 15 piece cam holder/rocker shaft for the four-cylinder engine from 1,500 sets per day to more than 3,300 sets per day.

The plant also will locate its four machine areas in one space, which will allow for the consolidation of production and technical support and savings of about $900,000 in expenses, said company Vice President Kevin Turner.

Examples for savings would be consolidating management, reducing material handling and decreasing the facility's forklift traffic by about 5,000 kilometers.

"The return on investment for us in this building is going to be very rapid," Turner said.

Crews are expected to break ground on the project in the next few weeks.

Madison Precision Products, a subsidiary of Metts Corp., began with less than 100 full-time employees and has grown to about 500 full-time associates -almost 80 percent of whom live in Jefferson County.

The plant has seen an increase in sales since opening with the exception of 2009-2011 - which were affected by the economic downturn and Tsunami in Japan.

Turner expects to sustain the 500 full-time employees with the renovations but said employment "could potentially go up." As automation increases at the plant, Turner said the ratio of technical support positions such as engineering and maintenance will increase compared with traditional line workers.

Madison Precision Products currently has career opportunities for a die casting engineering manager and machining engineer, the company said in a news release.

The last expansion for Madison Precision Products came in 2007. The upcoming expansion will increase the facility size to nearly 304,000 square feet. After the addition, more than 330 manufacturing workers will be in a controlled environment compared with the 70 manufacturing workers who now work in a controlled climate area.

When the expansion opens, the cam holder/rocker shaft production will make up 61 percent of the plant's production.

"This has been a core business item for us," said Turner, adding that the company has few competitors in North America.

The cam holder/rocker shaft for the four-cylinder engine has increased in popularity since consumers starting becoming more economical about vehicle purchasing and aware of gas rises, Turner said.

"We're seeing that the younger generations of automotive buyers have more sensitivity about fuel economy," he said.