Southwest Wake News

Detention supplier Bob Barker Co. plans $4.15M expansion of Fuquay-Varina facility

Bob Barker, left, talks with an employee in 2012 at the Bob Barker Co. in Fuquay-Varina.
Bob Barker, left, talks with an employee in 2012 at the Bob Barker Co. in Fuquay-Varina. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE

Detention supply firm Bob Barker Co. will add 40 full-time jobs in the next five years as part of a $4.15 million expansion of the company’s distribution center in Fuquay-Varina, town officials said Tuesday.

The expansion of the company’s Purfoy Road facility will be partially funded by a $207,500 incentive package from the town, which the town board unanimously approved Tuesday. It’s the first such incentive agreement approved since the town’s policy on economic incentives was established a year ago.

“This has helped secure the company’s commitment to investing in Fuquay-Varina instead of out of state, which they did consider,” Town Manager Adam Mitchell said.

Bob Barker Co. is headquartered in Fuquay-Varina and plans to add 45,000 square feet to an existing 210,000-square-foot building. The firm manufactures and distributes mattresses, uniforms, hygiene products and other items for prisons around the country. The company also provides uniforms and other supplies to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The new positions, warehousing and distribution jobs, will pay an average annual salary of between $52,000 and $55,000.

“We relocated from Apex in 1988, and since then Fuquay-Varina has certainly been very good to the Bob Barker Co.,” said Nancy Johns, the firm’s vice president for corporate social responsibility. She is the daughter of Bob Barker, the company’s founder, CEO and chairman. He also is a former Fuquay-Varina mayor.

“My parents have in turn felt strongly about giving back to the community, and they have encouraged my brother and I and others at the company to invest in Fuquay-Varina,” Johns said. “I hope that has been evident.”

The incentive package will come out of the town’s general fund. It represents the maximum amount allowable under the town’s economic incentive policy, which permits the town to offer up to 5 percent of a company’s expansion or relocation costs. That policy was approved in November 2015, as part of an effort to attract new development – especially manufacturers, which can provide good-paying jobs that don’t require post-secondary degrees.

Fuquay-Varina will recoup its investment in 11 years, according to estimates of the expansion’s additional property tax value. The project will be complete by next summer.

Bob Barker Co. is one of the town’s “Big Four” manufacturing companies, a group of firms tapped by the town for public-private partnerships that also includes John Deere Turf Care, Southbend and TE Connectivity. Bob Barker Co. was founded in 1972. A majority of its 225 employees work in Fuquay-Varina, making it one of the town’s largest employers.

Mayor John Byrne and commissioners praised the company for its investment in the town and encouragement of employee involvement in the community.

“Bob Barker has made the largest single investment into the revitalization of our downtown area,” Byrne said, referring to the company’s downtown headquarters and frequent role as a sponsor of town events. “They’re certainly real anchors, and we appreciate that.”

Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan