Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 21, 2012

3M preparing for a $5M expansion


Knoxville — Construction is underway at Knoxville's 3M Plant to add another line and more jobs. 

The company announced the expansion in June. 3M is making a $5 million investment in Knoxville. The local plant competed with another in Europe to receive the addition. 

Plant Manager Greg Couves said 3M as a company operates with a "superhub" concept, which means it wants to do more work in larger plants. Knoxville is among the five biggest plants, for size and complexity, of the company's 80 locations in America. 

The expansion will bring to the local plant its first new line since 2007. Construction should be complete and operations beginning in the expansion in April 2013. 

The Knoxville plant already employs approximately 570 people. There are 12,000 unique products made at the plant annually. The approximate worth of the products made in Knoxville each year total approximately $500 million. 

"We feel pretty good about our results this year," Couves said.  "We have good people." 

Couves said 2012 will finish strong for 3M Knoxville. He believes the future is bright, but he will not be certain about 2013 until it gets closer. 

Most of the plant is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Team leaders consistently look for efficiencies and have employed the Lean Sigma concept of Kaizan. Couves called his employees "amazing." 

Outside the plant, 3M continues to offer grants to Knoxville Schools and participate in programs aimed at encouraging young people to explore engineering as a career. Couves said there is always a need for people to work in technological and maintenance trades. 

"It's a great career," Couves said.