Welbilt, a global manufacturer of commercial restaurant equipment, plans to expand its facility in Pasco County, and hire about 110 new employees.
Company officials announced the expansion Feb. 20 at the Pasco County Commission meeting in New Port Richey.
The outcome could have been different as company officials had looked elsewhere in the Tampa Bay area for a suitable location. Welbilt, formerly Manitowoc Foodservice Inc., opened in Pasco more than 10 years ago.
“We’re very pleased we’re going to stay in Pasco,” said Thomas Wooderson, engineering director for Welbilt.
Wooderson said the expansion would be done in phases, with new employees hired, as space and need are available. The average annual salary for employees is almost $69,000, which is 200 percent more than the county’s average annual wage.
The project represents about $13.5 million in capital investment and should be completed by mid-2019.
Welbilt will remodel its existing research and development laboratories at 2227 Welbilt Road in New Port Richey, and build an additional 42,000 square feet.
The expansion will have laboratory space, a test kitchen and a new customer service center. There also will be a 190-space parking garage.
Welbilt will receive $650,000 in incentives from Pasco, and about $480,000 from Florida’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program.
An independent report showed that the Welbilt expansion will indirectly add more than 170 jobs that generate about $9.4 million in personal income annually.
It also will add about $10.9 million to Pasco’s Gross County Product, according to a news release from the Pasco Economic Development Council.
Welbilt is an international manufacturer, operating in 12 countries, with more than 5,000 employees. The company builds commercial restaurant equipment, including stoves, ice machines, grills, beverage dispensers, and walk-in freezers.
On average, about 2,000 customers visit Welbilt annually for specialized service in developing and designing kitchen systems, and products.
“That could double or triple,” Wooderson said, after the expansion.
Welbilt’s employees work collaboratively with chefs, restaurant chain operators, and independent restaurant owners, on customized design solutions, Wooderson said.
Connectivity and automation, especially, are becoming important in the food industry, he added.
“The industry is changing so fast we need to have a new corporate view on innovation,” he said. “We’re seeking greater opportunities.”
Published February 28, 2018