Archive for Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Lawrence business moving to town

October 13, 2004

Chalk up another new business for Tonganoxie.

Jim Thomas and John Hoerner are moving Pan Pro--Co to Tonganoxie.

Employees of the 7-year-old North Lawrence business refinish, repair and add a non-stick coating to commercial bakery pans and multi-level oven racks.

Thomas, who lives in McLouth, and Hoerner, who lives in the United Kingdom, have seen their business grow. In fact, that's what prompted their decision to move. Their 3,600-square-foot Tonganoxie location doubles their space.

The building where they'll open for business next week is at Leavenworth County Road 5 and Laming Road. The building is owned by the Animal Clinic of Tonganoxie, of which veterinarian Vickie Smith is a partner.

Pan Pro-Co's customers include two national bakery cafe chains, as well as grocery stores and other restaurants. Their customers are located across the country.

The transition from Lawrence to Tonganoxie will be enhanced by the fact that his employees were familiar with the area.

"One of my employees already lives in Tonganoxie, another employee lives about halfway between Lawrence and Tonganoxie," Thomas said. "... And I have another employee that is going to be moving to the Tonganoxie area."

Five people currently work at the business, Thomas said.

Thomas, 56, said he had worked in the radiator business before starting Pan Pro-Co. For health reasons, he decided to find a new line of work.

"I was looking around, one of my suppliers came up with a system for cleaning pans and the rest is history," Thomas said.

It turned out, his former supplier's advice was wrong.

"But we just kept at it and finally hooked up with some companies that knew a little more about the methodology for doing this," Thomas said.

His largest customer, a national bakery/cafe chain, has 400 locations, all of which have their pans and racks cleaned, repaired and re-coated every nine months.

"We take the used racks that need repairs or wheels, load the dirty pans on that, put it in the back of the truck and go to the next store," Thomas said.

Thomas estimated the company cleans, repairs and re-coats 150,000 pans a year.

And they hope to top that.

"That's one of the reasons we're moving to a new plant is so we can do more," Thomas said.

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