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Bartlett vinyl record producer tuning up a $30M expansion project

Posted by | April 15 2022

This article originally appeared in the Memphis Business Journal

Bartlett vinyl record producer tuning up a $30M expansion project

The reemergence of consumers purchasing vinyl records has coincided with the growth of a Bartlett manufacturer that’s in the process of making a major investment into its operations.

Memphis Record Pressing (MRP) — which was established in 2014 and is one of the largest vinyl pressing plants in North America — announced on Thursday, April 14, the start of construction on a $30 million expansion project that will triple the size of the company.

MRP’s operations have continued to increase vinyl production from less than 1 million LP [long-play] records in 2015 to over 4 million in 2020 — the first year that vinyl records outsold compact discs (CDs) in the U.S. in decades. The trend continued in 2021, resulting in MRP making over 7 million LPs and vinyl sales leaping 50% to more than 41 million albums, per a press release.

“2020 and 2021 brought about tremendous global change, much of which left the world looking for a place of refuge, a means of escape,” Brandon Seavers, co-founder and CEO of MRP, said in the release. “The continued resurgence of the vinyl record was one such avenue, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. MRP is proud to be taking the lead to ensure that this magical medium reaches as many ears as possible, and to stand behind vinyl’s continued success for generations to come.”

The project — which MRP touts as making it the biggest vinyl record producer by volume in North America — will include the construction of a $21.3 million, 33,000-square-foot new building. The facility will include a larger press operation and new equipment. The new facility, scheduled to be up and running in late September 2022, will be adjacent to MRP’s current headquarters at 3015 Brothers Blvd. The facility is projected to have 36 new record presses that will allow MRP to push out about 125,000 records a day.

This isn’t the only project that Memphis Record Pressing has in the works. MRP said refurbishment to an existing warehouse to accommodate an expanded packaging operation is ongoing and is slated to open in June. MBJ reported in August 2021 that, to keep up with product demand, MRP applied for incentives from the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County.

According to the August 2021 EDGE application, MRP planned to make an investment of $7.5 million to start a new logistics operation “independent from its Bartlett facility.” MRP would locate its new logistics operation at 7625 Appling Center Drive, the application said.

The two investments MRP is making was assisted in part by PILOTs (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) from the cities of Bartlett and Memphis; both PILOTS combined for a tax savings of $2.8 million over 10 years for MRP. The projects are estimated to generate $10.3 million in tax revenues over the same 10-year time frame.

MRP also noted it is actively looking to increase staff for its expanded operations, eventually to double its workforce. The company, which employs around 200 workers, has plans to increase to approximately 480 employees by early 2023. The company’s goal is to add enough people to run the presses all day, every day.

The company said the average salary for such positions, including full benefits, would be around $42,000. The positions include vinyl record press operators; maintenance technicians; quality control technicians; material handlers; packaging technicians; and customer service representatives.

“MRP is an original, challenging, and fun place to work, with opportunities for people of all shapes and sizes,” Mark Yoshida, co-founder and COO of MRP, said in the release. “It’s a truly unique experience and serves as the backbone of the global music industry. We’re proud to be part of the continued legacy of Memphis music and would love to invite others to join us on this wild ride.”