Neal St. Anthony
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Colder Products Co. (CPC) of St. Paul, which operates from three facilities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, broke ground last week on a $26 million plant in Roseville near Interstate 35W and County Road C2.

“We need a building that represents the technically innovative organization that we are,” President Janel Wittmayer said. “We are in 1960s-style buildings. We are growing and adding employees. We want an environment that improves our ability to attract and retain people. The building will have collaborative space. We’re going to improve our efficiency and productivity and our employee engagement.”

Wittmayer expects to employ up to 400 workers at the new 132,000-square-foot plant within about a year.

The two buildings being vacated amount to about 75,000 square feet. The several-acre site also includes room for a 40,000 square foot building expansion.

CPC, which is owned by publicly held Dover Corp. of Downers Grove, Ill., has increased sales by 11% annually over the last five years. The company declines to specify its financial performance.

Wittmayer dispelled speculation that the expansion to the St. Paul suburb was driven by government subsidy or an escape from the rising minimum wages in St. Paul.

CPC’s starting wage for unskilled workers is already almost to $15 an hour, where the local minimum wage is headed within a few years.

The company’s experienced manufacturing workers make more than $20 an hour, with scientific and technical professionals earning $30 to $40 an hour or more.

She added that the company also is considering moving some production from China, where it employs about 50 people, to the new plant in Minnesota. At one point, CPC was considering moving some work to China.

CPC will vacate two connected facilities on Westgate Drive in St. Paul. It will continue to operate a “clean-room” sterile facility “a stone’s throw away on Malcolm Street in southeast Minneapolis.

CPC could receive more than $4 million in subsidies, about 15% of the total project cost, from the city of Roseville, Ramsey County and the state of Minnesota, provided it meets hiring projections.

The CPC project replaces a “visually blighted” and polluted site with old tractor trailers and a dilapidated building, said Janice Gundlach, Roseville’s community development director.

The city is providing $2.2 million over 25 years, essentially in property-tax subsidies. Roseville and Ramsey County will provide $1.2 million in site-cleanup funds. And the state is providing up to $1 million in incentives that will be paid as CPC reaches agreed-upon hiring goals.

“The trailers have been moved and the buildings have been moved,” Gundlach said “The site is contaminated. And it’s getting cleaned up. This development allows that to happen.

“This project has benefit for Roseville and Ramsey County and the state.”

As public subsidy goes, this is neither the best deal nor the worst I have seen, particularly compared to sports stadiums that have negligible economic benefit.

CPC pays relatively high wages. It’s taking advantage of what’s available. And every city, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, offers subsidies to desirable prospects.

The company is a high-test manufacture of “quick disconnects,” or sterile connectors that bind plastic tubing for the transfer of vaccines, drugs or other liquids, including coolants that are less expensive than air conditioning to cool the equipment in huge “server farms” or data centers.

“You can’t afford a leaky connector,” Wittmayer said. “We have an innovative product. We [serve] 51 submarkets. Some of them have hyper growth, such as biopharmaceuticals.”

CPC was established in 1978 in St. Paul, and named Colder in honor of Minnesota winters.

The world-class provider of quick-disconnect couplings and fittings has sales offices in 10 countries and more than 200 distributor-partners around the globe.

CPC said its connectors improve the overall functionality and design of the equipment and processes in which they are used.

Its track record and success indicate it is a homegrown, value-added manufacturer serving growth markets with well-trained, well-compensated workers. CPC has produced over 10,500 products for fluid handling in industries worldwide.

Parent company Dover posted earnings in 2018 of $570 million on $6.99 billion in revenue, compared with earnings of $812 million on $6.82 billion in revenue the previous year.

Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist and reporter since 1984. He can be contacted at nstanthony@startribune.com.