Percival Scientific breaks ground on $2 million plant expansion

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Wednesday morning’s freezing temperatures did not stop Percival Scientific from breaking ground on a $2 million, 33,000-square-foot expansion of its Perry plant.

With the expansion, the manufacturer of high-end incubators and plant growth chambers adds about 60% more production space to its current 50,000-square-foot footprint and aims to add about a dozen new jobs to its present 80-person staff.

Percival Scientific President and CEO Gary Wheelock was joined in the ceremony of the shovels by his executive team and a number of representatives from Grimes-based Septagon Construction, contractors for the expansion project.

The expansion got a green light in October 2020, when Percival secured two zero-interest, $1 million loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. The loans will pass through Minburn Communications and the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), organizations poised to assist Percival Scientific in purchasing equipment and building the electrical and high-speed internet infrastructure for the larger facility.

Wheelock said the 100-year-old Percival Scientific company has wanted to expand for some time, but the REDLG financing made the expansion a “no-brainer.”

“Thanks don’t begin to convey how grateful we are to the USDA for offering the REDLG program,” Wheelock said, “and that they saw the value in our expansion project and awarded us both loans.”

Along with the northward expansion, Percival Scientific’s longer-term growth received recent attention when the company acquired 10 acres of land on the west side of its current 5.5-acre parcel. The company was assisted in the deal by Perry Economic Development Inc., which provided a $75,000 grant to help offset the cost of the land, and the city of Perry, which offered to rebate property taxes on the expansion.

The Perry City Council is also expected to approve at its next meeting a parcel subdivision that would provide a lot for the potential creation of a regional stormwater detention system to serve the entire industrial park, if the current occupants of the park are agreeable. The Perry Industrial Park lies within the Beaver Creek Watershed.

A regional runoff system “is preferred in lieu of each individual lot creating its own detention pond” because it allows “lots to be ‘ready to go’ and not require individual stormwater management plans,” according to Scott Renaud of Renaud Engineering LLC, who has drawn up the regional stormwater plan.

Celebrating the start of the construction project with Wheelock Wednesday morning were Percival Scientific Vice President of Engineering Daniel Kiekhaefer, Percival Scientific Vice President of Manufacturing Jesse Smith, Percival Scientific Senior Vice President of Engineering Henry Imberti, Percival Scientific Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joni Campidilli, Septagon Construction President Brad Leonard,  Septagon Construction Sales Consultant Dean Pfaltzgraff, Septagon Construction Project Estimator Andy Stoeken and Septagon Construction Project Manager Lonn Wiegel.

Construction of the Percival addition is expected to be completed by the late fall or early winter of this year.

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