Kruger Unveils $300 Million Expansion

By Amos Maki

The North Memphis plant that began by manufacturing automobile parts and eventually produced the bodies and wings for B-25 bombers, celebrated a milestone Wednesday, May 22, with the $300 million expansion of the Kruger Inc. facility near Mud Island in Downtown.

Company representatives joined Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. at the Kruger Inc. plant opening.

(Photo: Christina Meek)

Under a tent to protect guests from the finicky Memphis weather, attendees – including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Kruger owner, chairman and CEO Joseph Kruger – gathered to laud the massive investment and expansion of the plant in the heart of the city.

“Kruger’s expansion is in a part of Memphis that needs investment and good jobs,” Wharton said.

Wednesday’s event marked the end of an eight-year, $316 million journey to upgrade the plant at 400 Mahannah Ave., just north of Second Street Downtown. Kruger bought the then-idle mill on Mahannah Avenue in 2002 and officials with Kruger, a Canadian company, said they were thrilled by the company’s expansion in Memphis.

The expansion virtually doubled the local footprint for Kruger, which produces White Cloud bathroom and facial tissue.

It is a massive operation. Creating paper means learning how to manage water, and at the Kruger plant, enough water to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools is recycled every hour.

“Kruger’s expansion is in a part of Memphis that needs investment and good jobs.”

–A C Wharton Jr.
Memphis mayor

“We are very proud to contribute to the economic vitality of the Memphis community while pursuing our growth objectives,” said Mario Gosselin, CEO of Kruger Products.

Last year Kruger, which is Canada’s leading tissue manufacturer, announced plans for major growth here – including another building, a new tissue machine and conversion of other equipment, allowing the company to double its manufacturing capacity.

Kruger chose the old Kimberly-Clark site in Memphis over several locales in the U.S. and one in Quebec, Canada. The move preserved 294 local jobs and is expected to create 100 more long-term jobs, as well as 500 direct and indirect jobs during construction, the company said last year.

In 2011, the Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board granted Kruger a 15-year tax break that would save the company $45 million.

“Corporations like Kruger are choosing Memphis because of our low cost of doing business, our central location and the great business environment,” said Greater Memphis Chamber President John Moore.