FXI nearly doubling workforce in Baldwyn

Thomas Wells

Daily Journal

BALDWYN – FXI has begun bringing new equipment to its Baldwyn factory and has added nearly a dozen employees.

The company, which uses foam in furniture, bedding, electronics, automobiles and personal care, is installing automated equipment in the plant and adding 60 more employees total as its health care business increases.

“We’re essentially doubling the number of employees we had here before we started the project, which was close to 70,” said Kevin Partlow, the vice president of operations for the Media, Pennsylvania-based company. “And we’ll be a three-shift operation.”

FXI also has a factory in Tupelo. When all the new jobs have been added, the company will employ about 250 workers at the two facilities combined.

FXI is investing $700,000 in the Baldwyn facility, while the Mississippi Development Authority contributed a $35,000 grant to help expand FXI’s storage and staging area. Baldwyn and Prentiss County will split a $3,500 match. The city and county also anticipate granting more than $100,000 in property tax breaks over the next 10 years.

Gov. Phil Bryant attended the announcement, noting that a third of the 3,000 new jobs announced this year in the state have been created in Northeast Mississippi.

“Every time we’re in Northeast Mississippi, we’re recognizing your hard work at creating new jobs,” he told the capacity audience inside the FXI break room.

The expansion at FXI fits into the state’s long-range plan to ramp up recruitment and expansion of the healthcare industry.

“We want it to become a economic driver across the state,” Bryant said. “We are an economy that understands healthcare as part of the solution. “

In Tupelo, FXI makes the foam used in the 90,000-square-foot Baldwyn plant.

“Here in Baldwyn, we make medical mattresses used in emergency rooms, and in any long-term health care facility,” Partlow said. “We also make medical positioners used in the operating room.”

The mattresses are made for more heavy duty purposes than ones found in homes, Partlow said. But the Tupelo FXI plant also makes more foam for the residential mattresses and cushions, he added.

The Baldwyn facility won’t be expanded, as lean manufacturing techniques were used to make better use of the space to make room for the new equipment.

Leon Hayes, executive director of the Prentiss County Development Association, said the project has been in the works for about four months.

“Without the productivity of the current employees, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to expand,” he said, noting that FXI has some 20 production facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.

“We’ve been Tupelo for 40 years, and bought the Baldwyn facility two years ago,” Partlow said. “After that, we put together a growth plan to grow the business. Providian, later merged with Medtronic, the largest medical device company in the world. ... we went aggressively after their business and were able to land a big contract.”

About 20 percent of the new equipment is in place in Baldwyn, Parlow said, with the remainder expected to arrive by the end of the week.

The rest of the new employees will be hired in phases over the next four to six months, he said.

Interested applicants can go to the Corinth WIN Job Center.

Twitter: @dennisseid

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