MERRILLVILLE | More and more people are using single-load detergent packets when washing their dishes or doing their laundry -- instead of measuring out the cleaning agent and maybe spilling some in the process.
A Northwest Indiana company that makes the water-soluble film that contains the detergent is growing to keep up with runaway popularity of Tide Pods and other one-use capsules. The laundry pods are little more than a year old but already have grabbed 8 percent of the market share.
Merrilville-based MonoSol, which has production facilities in Portage, LaPorte and the United Kingdom, plans to hire an additional 100 employees over the next 12 to 18 months to keep pace with consumer demand. The company is in the middle of a $39 million expansion at its LaPorte plant, and is already looking at building another manufacturing facility.
No location has been picked out yet, but MonoSol President and CEO P. Scott Bening said he is committed to continue to build and expand in the region.
"We are presently expanding in LaPorte, Ind., to meet customer demand," Bening said. "This expansion phase will continue through next year followed by another program already underway. Site selection is in full gear, and we plan to announce the groundbreaking for our next manufacturing site early next year."
MonoSol, which is owned by the Japanese manufacturing firm Kuraray Co., is looking at potential locations all over the world but leaning toward another factory in Northwest Indiana.
"Our excellent local resources – from water to natural gas and, most importantly, people – helps to have this region continually rise to the top when we consider global options for expansion," he said.
MonoSol, which employs around 400 workers, dominates the global market for water-soluble film for dishwasher capsules such as Cascade Action Pacs. The company supplies nearly all the film for detergent packets to companies around the world, including the Persil and Ariel detergent brands that are popular in Europe. MonoSol maintain a market share of more than 90 percent.
Over the last four years, the company has increased its workforce by nearly 80 percent.
"In these challenging business times, growth is a great problem to have," said John Gornto, director of human resources. "We expect to be hiring an additional 100 employees over the next 12 to 18 months – 70 percent of which will be on the manufacturing side and the others in professional positions from scientists and engineers to marketing, sales and administrative associates."
MonoSol plans to start hiring as soon as January, spokesman Matt Scearce said. Most of the new jobs will be in LaPorte, but a variety of positions will need to be filled at all its facilities. MonoSol, for instance, will need chemists at its research and development center in Merrillville, where its corporate offices are housed.
The company offers competitive salaries and benefits.
As it gears up for growth, MonoSol just reached a new five-year labor contract with workers at its LaPorte facility, who are represented by Teamsters Union Local 135. The renewed agreement provides for wage and benefit increases as MonoSol expands, and will take effect Dec. 5.