PLASTIC-packaging manufacturer Winpak Ltd. is undertaking a $10-million expansion of its primary production plant in Winnipeg in a move that could create up to 125 new jobs over the next five years.
Ken Kuchma, the Winnipeg-based firm's chief financial officer, said work on the 80,000-square-foot addition will get underway this spring and should be completed before the end of the year.
He said the project will boost the size of the St. James plant, which is located at 100 Saulteaux Cres., to nearly 500,000 square feet.
Kuchma said 12 to 15 of the estimated 125 new jobs will be added this year.
"As our business continues to grow, we will continue to add more people..."
Winpak has between 650 and 670 people working in its Winnipeg operations, which also include another 85,000-square-foot production facility located next door to the main plant.
Kuchma said the Winnipeg expansion is part of an estimated $70 million in capital-works projects that Winpak expects to undertake in 2013. That would be on par with last year's expenditures.
The Winnipeg project had originally been on the books for 2012, but was postponed because of mounting concerns about the soaring cost of new construction in Manitoba.
"But we took another look at our plans and made a few changes... that removed some of the costs," he said.
Also, the level of construction activity has moderated a little, he said, which enabled the company to strike a better deal with local contractors.
The bulk of the new space will be used to expand the plant's production capacity. The remainder will be warehouse space.
Kuchma said Winpak officials are keen to acquire another production plant in 2013 -- it currently has nine in Canada and the United States -- if the opportunity presents itself.
"We've been saying that for a while, but unfortunately, nothing has happened. But with the sort of war chest we have -- roughly $130 million in cash -- it would be nice to put that money to more effective use."
The company has been looking at potential acquisition targets on both sides of the border, but Kuchma said it's willing to wait as long as it takes to get the right deal.
"We've always been a very prudent company and fiscally conservative. So we're not going to pay an exorbitant price for a business. We'll continue to be patient."
Winpak manufactures machines and plastic materials for the packaging of perishable foods and beverages, and for health-care applications.