Clarcor to build Maury R&D hub

Manufacturer to add 35 jobs over five years; shares jump after big Q1 beat

Manufacturing holding company Clarcor has agreed to buy a Maury County warehouse it plans to convert into its global research and development center.

Executives at Franklin-based Clarcor say they plan to spend $10 million to buy, renovate and staff the 10-year-old facility at 2203 Oakland Parkway on the western edge of Columbia into a hub featuring research laboratories, testing equipment, pilot and semi-works production lines and a learning center. They intend to add 35 jobs at the facility over the next five years and will relocate a smaller facility in Cincinnati here.

"The Innovation Center will focus on developing unique filtration media, advancing our nanofiber capabilities, and creating innovative processes and differentiated filtration products that can deliver increased value to our customers, employees and shareholders," said Chairman, President and CEO Chris Conway, who called the site half an hour from Cool Springs "the perfect place for us to operate and to be able to recruit top level talent, both internally and externally."

Clarcor employs about 5,200 full- and part-time people focused on innovation and the redesign of its products. In 2013, the company spent about $11.3 million on R&D, in line with the previous two years and up from $9.7 million in 2006. The 62,250-square-foot building the company is buying (pictured) sits on more than nine acres and has about 11,000 square feet of office space. It was previously a distribution center for Porter-Walker, which handles industrial and safety supplies from more than 2,000 manufacturers.

News of Clarcor's Columbia effort came shortly after Conway and his team presented their first-quarter results, which easily surpassed analysts' estimates. The company posted a fiscal second-quarter profit of $34.5 million, up from $33.2 million a year ago. Per diluted share and adjusted for acquisition-related costs, that amounted to 76 cents — 11 cents better than the Street had expected. Adjusted operating profits climbed 16 percent to $57.5 million.

That news lifted shares of Clarcor (Ticker: CLC) more than 7 percent to $63 in after-hours trading Wednesday. Year to date, they're now down slightly.