Roofing company could bring $206M investment, 215 jobs to Franklin

An asphalt roofing shingles company is planning a more than $206 million investment to construct a 350,000-square-foot facility and bring over 200 jobs to Franklin.

The Franklin Economic Development Commission on Tuesday forwarded to the city council a pair of 10-year tax abatments, for real property and personal property each, for the construction of a Herbert Malarkey Roofing Company manufacturing facility. The facility would be on 135 acres at the intersection of Paul Hand Road and Graham Road on the city’s far north side.

Malarkey Roofing’s facility would have the address of 3543 Essex Dr., and would be constructed on the northern end of the property. The company has also outlined plans to pay $3 million to extend Essex Drive to connect with Paul Hand Boulevard and also give the city $2 million toward improvements to Paul Hand Boulevard.

At the site, there would be a manufacturing facility, asphalt storage and polymer modification facility and the company will be set up for bulk raw material unloading.

“The mayor, Krista [Linke] and I have been working with Malarkey Roofing for almost a year it feels like, but we’re very excited to see this come to fruition, for this to be a positive experience for our community,” said Dana Monson, community development specialist.

Malarkey is the third company to propose a project for this site. The city council previously approved now-void tax abatements for Al Neyer and DHL at this site. Those projects were both multi-building warehouse complexes, whereas this will be an advanced manufacturing facility.

The previous projects did not work out, but Mayor Steve Barnett and city economic development staff are enthusiastic about this latest project. The investmentis among the largest Franklin has seen in a single project during his administration, Barnett said.

Malarkey Roofing was founded in 1956 in Oregon and operates in Oregon, Oklahoma, California and Maryland. The company is now looking at Franklin as its first Midwest location.

“This has been an ambition of ours to expand in the Midwest as a particular market in general just because it works well with our product,” said Dave Wachsmuth, vice president of finance for Malarkey Roofing. “It’s just a great market for us.”

Malarkey Roofing was attracted to Franklin because of the interstate, its Midwest work ethic, site location, the company’s transportation needs, labor needs and business connections, Wachsmuth said.

On the tax abatement application, Wachsmuth stated that the total project cost, including manufacturing tooling for two production lines, is expected to be approximately $206.5 million — including site acquisition costs. The company hopes to break ground in 2024 and get product out at the end of 2026, he said during the meeting.

Company officials expect to bring 215 jobs with average wages of $26.92, according to documents filed with the city. The current average wage in Johnson County is $23.93.

The company is sustainable and uses a lot of recycled rubber, tire rubber and plastics, Wachsmuth said. It also adds in some special granules that help remove smog from the environment.

“We’re a very innovative company and that’s something I think that makes us special,” Wachsmuth said.

When asked about environmental concerns, Wachsmuth said the company will go through all of the different permitting for the project. He told the commission the asphalt only has a smell up close, but not further away.

He also said the company wants to be a good neighbor and employees typically volunteer in its communities. The company also gives back through its Malarkey Cares program and donates roofs to Habitat for Humanity.

The city more commonly gives five to seven-year personal property tax abatements, but Barnett said the level of investment Malarkey is providing qualifies them for a 10-year abatement. In addition to the standard economic development fee, the company is going above and beyond by investing $200 million in the facility and an additional $5 million toward public roads.

“We have a new company that wants to come to town that I’m very pleased with. Thank you for wanting to invest here and be part of us,” he said.

If approved for the real property tax abatement, the company would save $16,207 while still paying $17,243 in taxes. Meanwhile, they would save an additional $5.8 million with the personal property tax abatement, while paying $4.09 million in taxes, according to tax estimates compiled by the city.

Without development at this site, the city would bring about $33,450 over the next 10 years, estimates show.

The company’s tax abatements will now head to the Franklin City Council for final approval. The development plan will be approved by the plan commission at a later time, while an economic development agreement for the $5 million will also need to be approved by the redevelopment commission too.