Sun Hydraulics begins construction on new Manatee plant

MANATEE — Sun Hydraulics Corp. has began construction on a new facility on Tallevast Road to increase the manufacturer’s production capacity.

Construction on the 78,000-square-foot plant is expected to be complete during the first half of 2013 — leading to an estimated 361 new jobs within five years of opening, according to the Manatee Economic Development Corp.

Sun Hydraulics first announced the $16 million expansion plans in January, but at the time, the company wouldn’t release a timetable for the build out.

With all of the permits in hand, workers at the site now are moving dirt, digging drainage ponds and getting the property prepped for its steel frame. The facility will become the company’s largest expansion since 1997.

“We have been in position to pull the trigger on this for quite a while,” company spokesman Rich Arter said. “We were waiting to see what happened with macro economic trends and to make sure the construction timing was right.”

The new plant at 803 Tallevast Road will become the company’s third in the Manatee-Sarasota area, joining a facility at 701 Tallevast and its headquarters off University Parkway.

The new plant was formerly a DHL facility before Sun Hydraulics bought the site and razed the building. Sun Hydraulics has been buying property to accommodate the expansion dating back to 1999, Arter said.

Last year Sun Hydraulics made improvements to utilities to its existing Tallevast facility as well as the new site. The company also poured $1.5 million into its headquarters to add about 18,000 square feet of additional office space to house recently hired engineers.

Sun Hydraulics, publicly traded on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, produces hydraulic cartridge valves used to control force, speed and motion. The fluid power systems are most commonly found in construction, utilities and oil-drilling operations.

Sun qualified for $396,420 in performance-based incentives from Manatee County, along with $76,580 in transportation impact fee incentives.

Those funds were based on the company adding 361 new jobs during the next five years that pay 15 percent more than the current county average wage of $34,556, according to the EDC.