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Aagard expands to pull all workers into one building

Brad VanderTuin, vice president of engineering at Aagard, poses by the expansion site, and the non–structural wall. (Judd Martinson | Echo Press)1 / 3
A drawing of the new Aagard lunch room looking over the manufacturing floor. (Contributed)2 / 3
A front view of the Aagard building after the expansion. (Contributed)3 / 3

Aagard Group continues to increase their capabilities, beginning with a 40,000 square-foot building expansion.

Of the 40,000 square feet, 31,000 square feet will provide additional manufacturing space, with the rest comprising a new lunch room, bathrooms, and conference rooms.

Aagard hopes to move into the completed addition by February 2018, moving all its employees, about 180, under one roof again. Some Aagard employees have been working in the old Kmart building pending the expansion.

The new lunch room will create enough space for employees to congregate in one lunch area, hold company-wide meetings and play ping pong during breaks. They can even use it for personal family functions.

Vice president of engineering at Aagard, Brad VanderTuin, said he is looking forward to the sense of community the new lunch room space will provide for the Aagard employees.

The Alexandria company, which designs and builds machines that package products for other companies, broke ground for the expansion on Wednesday, July 12.

Since moving to its original Alexandria building in 2006, located near Douglas Machine along Iowa Street by Alexandria's Industrial Park, Aagard has continued to grow.

The original building, about 43,000 square feet, housed about 60 employees. They quickly outgrew their initial space, adding another 31,000 square feet in 2008 when their workforce grew to about 85.

"The building was designed and built to expand," VanderTuin said.

VanderTuin explained how the east wall of the Aagard building is a "non-structural wall," referring to how Aagard can easily expand to the east side of their building. He also mentioned that Aagard has about 13 acres of land to work with.

He mentioned that they know it's been less efficient having two locations, but using the space has allowed them to grow during that time, and decide how to move forward.

"We will be moving back to a single site, which will be nice," said VanderTuin. "There is another tenant in the former Kmart building that is continuing to grow as well, and likely to need the space that we're currently using."

The tenant using some of the Kmart building space, Enterprise—CP, could expand as Aagard moves out. Enterprise—CP packages products for other businesses. Enterprise-CP is connected to Aagard through Aagard founder and CEO Brenton Smith.