By Brandi Makuski
Worzalla broke ground on its $12.5-million addition Wednesday, with state and city officials in tow.
The book publisher said it will add 50 more jobs to its existing workforce of 300, commensurate with the company’s footprint: the building’s existing 300,000 square feet will be increased by 50,000 square feet to the south.
“The demand for books has never been higher, and we just frankly ran out of room to produce them,” said Worzalla CEO Jim Fetherston. “It’s a great situation to make a big investment into the company.”
The company held a brief ceremony recognizing Assemblywoman Katrina Shankland, Mayor Mike Wiza, and 7th District Councilmember Mary Kneebone. Fetherston thanked each for their support of the expansion project, and all three spoke of their love of reading.
“You can have my book when you pry it from my cold, dead hands,” joked Kneebone. “There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a book.”
Worzalla started its journey on Main St. more than a century ago as a printing and publishing company. Today, the company prints and binds books, working with publishers, editors, and distributors.
Chuck Nason, chairman of the Worzalla board, recalled a conversation he once had with Walter Worzalla when Nason took over his role in the company.
“I said, ‘Walter, you didn’t leave us enough land,’ and he said, ‘What do you mean I didn’t leave you enough land? There’s land all the way to the Copps building,'” Nason said on Thursday. “One of my main objectives at that time was, the plant was going to reach Jefferson St.”
The addition will feature state-of-the-art equipment, Fetherston said, including a new binder.
“When you’re talking to an employee, you’re talking to one of the owners,” Nason said. “And we’ve got the best owners in the world.”
Worzalla hopes to complete the project by spring.