AndyMark, a Kokomo-based global robotic parts supply company, is receiving a loan from the city of Kokomo to help pay for new equipment and to retain and create jobs, as its business is trying to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city’s Revolving Loan Fund Board unanimously approved earlier this month a seven-year loan of $280,000 at a 2% interest rate. The money will be used to buy new equipment to expand and diversify the company’s product line and its production capabilities, and keep more of the production process in-house as compared to outsourcing the work, which will save the business money in the long term, owner and president Andy Baker told the board.
Specifically, the company will purchase used equipment so it can produce precision sheet metal products and precision CNC lathe products, Baker said. He added that the new equipment will help retain jobs, as it will give current employees more opportunities to create new products.
Approximately 75% of AndyMark’s business, Baker said, is selling parts to competitive robotics teams at schools and universities across both the country and the world.
However, business has largely dried up as schools and universities canceled competitions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That market has been slashed,” Baker said.
According to Baker, sales are down 58% since March 13, with sales since January down even more, at 74%. Because of that, the company had to lay off seven full-time employees in June, though the company plans on rehiring those seven in the future once the market returns to some kind of normalcy, which Baker said he expects to happen in six to eight months time.
“We would like to work through the winter and not have to lay off anybody else,” Baker said. “This money would go toward retaining jobs by continuing to have our staff work here. It would help us continue to pay them to work on products that they’re continuing to develop for sales within the next year. Also, it could even grow … technical fabrication jobs to help us build more things in-house.”
Board members were overwhelmingly in favor of giving AndyMark the loan, as they saw the company being a safe bet both in repayment and for keeping its commitment to retaining and adding jobs.
“They’re doing everything they can to keep the business going ... because they really do see a light at the end of the tunnel once we get back to some semblance of normalcy, and they have great employees they don’t want to lose,” said Bob Hickman, board member and chief credit officer at Community First Bank of Indiana. “So I feel comfortable they’re doing everything they can to retain those Howard County employees.”
AndyMark was founded in Kokomo in 2004 by Baker and Mark Koors. The two, then working at a day job at Delphi Automotive, grew their businesses in their homes when not at work. In 2007, AndyMark moved to Inventrek as part of its incubator program before moving to its own 24,000-square-foot facility on North Washington Street. In 2018, the company expanded even more and moved operations to 1900 E. North St.
The revolving loan will be paid with money the city received through the U.S. Economic Development Administration CARES Act Recovery Assistance Revolving Loan Fund Program, which is designated to go toward retaining and/or adding jobs at local businesses affected by the pandemic.