PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Natural Fiber Welding, a Peoria start-up, is looking to expand to a new production facility on the south side of the city while adding more jobs along the way.
The company announced it’s soon going to set up shop in a 110,000-square foot manufacturing space at 801 SW Jefferson Ave. It will be on the west side of the SC2 Supply Chain Services & Solutions building.
The start-up, which develops natural fibers and is built around sustainability, was founded in 2015 by Dr. Luke Haverhals and has been operating out of its research and development location on Galena Road.
Tom Waggoner, the company’s chief operating officer, said they’ve had such a demand for their products and they decided they needed to scale up to a bigger facility.
“It’s going to be our premiere manufacturing location for our non-synthetic leather product called “Mirum,” Waggoner said. “It’s 100% natural solution, there’s no petrochemicals used in it.”
Waggoner said their plant-based product Mirum can be used and formed so many different ways that strictly calling it an alternative to leather doesn’t do it justice.
“It’s used in footwear and apparel and accessories like handbags, automotive interiors, door trim panels and things that are currently wrapped with leather of some kind,” Waggoner said. “Anything that’s covered whether it’s your body furniture or your home furniture, they’re all potential opportunities for Mirum.”
He said with the new expansion will come at least 100 new jobs.
“Not just run-of-the-mill jobs but these are going to be very well-paying jobs,” Waggoner said. “We’re going to be able to bring in a lot of the folks within the skilled trades and doing electrical work and mechanical work. We have engineers that are starting and supply chain specialists so it’s going to be a really, really big deal.”
Waggoner said they’ll soon start bringing in people to their Galena Road location training and move into the new facility in April. He said the future is looking bright for both the company and the city.
“It allows the city to diversify from a manufacturing base and become a textile technology hub,” Waggoner said. “This is all new and it’s all exciting and it’s things that impact every human being on the planet and so I think Peoria should be very excited because we are very excited for Peoria that we can do it here.”