By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – Aphena Pharma Solutions today announced a $21 million expansion of its Cookeville operations, including the acquisition of the former 500,000-square-foot Russell Stover plant.
The new facility will be renovated for the company’s future headquarters and will allow space for Aphena to expand into biologics, cold chain storage and third-party logistics distribution. The company plans to hire around 200 additional workers within the next five years to support this growth.
Renovations to the Chocolate Drive facility are currently underway and will be completed by February 2021. The expansion will allow Aphena to install 24 high speed bottling lines and eight thermoform blister packaging lines, in addition to providing 200,000 square feet of warehouse space.
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Aphena will be consolidating two of its current Putnam County facilities into the new space while keeping the Fisk Road location for packaging operations.
The Chocolate Drive facility’s former use as an FDA-approved manufacturing and packaging operation provided the perfect opportunity for Aphena. This will enable Aphena to enter the market of biologics, powerful medications that can be made of tiny components like sugars, proteins or DNA, that are often susceptible to light and temperature.
“This new facility will make Aphena a top contender in the pharmaceutical contract service space, starting with over 14,000 pallets of cold chain storage capacity,” said Eric Allen, Aphena’s EVP of sales. “Being able to offer turnkey packaging and distribution services for biologic products, plus expanding the current operations with newly innovated bottling and packaging lines, will continue to attract key pharmaceutical customers to the Middle Tennessee area.”
“This expansion is exciting news for Aphena, our customers and our communities,” said Aphena CEO Shawn Reilley. “The Solid Dose Division and recent Liquids Division expansions will establish Aphena’s position as one of the most diversified manufacturing and packaging companies in the pharmaceutical industry. These growth strategies will continue to offer our customers expanded project capabilities at every level, and it will create a very large employment opportunity, both in Cookeville and at our facility in Easton, Md.”
In addition to the Cookeville expansion, Aphena recently purchased two additional buildings adjacent to their current manufacturing facility in Easton, Md., creating a 26-acre pharmaceutical campus with 184,000 square feet of operational space.
Minor building renovations and the installation of new equipment have already begun in Easton, with an estimated completion date of October 2020. Aphena currently employs 150 full-time workers there and plans to add an additional 100 jobs at this location over the next two years. The acquisition of the property plus the planned renovations represent a $12.5 million investment by Aphena in the Easton facility over the past 12 months.
Local officials praised Aphena for their efforts and the faith that they have exhibited in making this investment in the community.
“The expansion of Aphena Pharma Solutions is a great representation of our community’s resilience,” said Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton. “The company will take a building that has been underutilized and bring high-skilled, high-wage jobs that will help as we recover from what has been a challenging year. The city of Cookeville thanks Aphena Pharma Solutions for its commitment to our community and our citizens. We look forward to many years of celebrating this partnership.”
“The expansion of Aphena Pharma Solutions in a time of such uncertainty shows the faith they have in Putnam County as a sound investment,” said Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter. “There is a strong history between this company and our community, and we look forward to the impact we will continue to see as a result of Aphena Pharma being in Putnam County. This announcement showcases our community’s resilience as we recover from the tornado disaster of March 3 and the effects of the pandemic. I’m very proud of our team and all the hard work involved to make this day possible.”