Upgrade will optimize the company’s production process and allow for the development of new product lines
GapVax started because owners Gary and Rose Poborsky had difficulty finding the type of reliable equipment they needed to support their growing environmental services business. Nearly three decades later, the Pennsylvania-based vacuum truck manufacturer has grown well beyond those humble beginnings and is on the cusp of a significant expansion.
GapVax is currently wrapping up the first phase of what will ultimately be a 160,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing facility in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
“The first phase is going to address our biggest bottleneck, which is blasting, painting and the finishing of the product,” says Gary Poborsky.
The first phase encompasses about 100,000 square feet of the expansion. The upcoming second phase will complete the project and focus on the fabrication process.
“Our lead times were out too far,” Poborsky says of what prompted the expansion. “We’re doing this so we can provide faster delivery times for customers and also do it in a more efficient way. We’re going to be able to set it up more like a production line and do quality-control checks continuously throughout the production instead of just at the very end.”
Not only will it improve the manufacturing process for GapVax’s current products, it will also allow the company to look more at developing new product lines. The current facility is 90,000 square feet sitting on 4 acres, which has limited the company’s ability to add new products, Poborsky says. Once the expansion is complete, GapVax will have about 250,000 square feet on 15 acres. That added capacity also has the company looking at growing its dealer network.
“We weren’t really focused on that before because we couldn’t support it,” Poborsky says. “Now we’ll have the capacity for a dealer network throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
Since beginning the expansion process two years ago, GapVax has added about 20 employees. That number is expected to grow in the coming years.
“We’ve been adding employees to ramp up for the expansion, and cross-training them and putting them on different teams,” Poborsky says. “When we get into the new space there will be a lot of people who will be able to step up to increase the number of teams we have working on each truck. It depends on the economy, but I could see us adding 30 to 50 more employees in the next three to five years.”
While the expansion is about serving customers better and growing the company, it’s also significant for the larger Johnstown community, says Poborsky.
“One of the biggest things is that the employees own 30 percent of GapVax, so with the expansion we’ll continue to be able to have that great opportunity for the employees and the community,” he says. “Johnstown is like most communities. It’s tough. Jobs are hard to create and good manufacturing jobs are a huge benefit for any community because of the other businesses that support the manufacturing.”