Lodge Adds a New Foundry, Warehouse, and Nearly 100 Jobs
The Lodge Cast Iron factory is located in the tiny town of South Pittsburg, Tenn., which has a population of fewer than 3,000 people. As its name suggests, South Pittsburg developed as an iron town, thanks to its proximity to the railroad and the Tennessee River that made transporting finished goods across the country easy. In 1896, 40 years after the town was given that name, Joseph Lodge founded his cast iron company. Over a century later, Joseph Lodge’s great grandson, who now leads the company, is happy to announce the company is undergoing a major expansion.
In 2016, members of Lodge’s leadership team broke ground on two brand-new facilities. The first, a two-production-line foundry measuring 127,000 square feet, will be located adjacent to the existing foundry. That manufacturing plant will work to fill a 212,000-square-foot warehouse being built just across the Tennessee River from South Pittsburg in New Hope, Tenn. The new warehouse will have the capacity to be expanded to 500,000 square feet when needed, which may happen sooner, rather than later, given the phenomenal popularity of the company’s legendary cookware.
Bloomberg reports that cast iron now accounts for 10 percent of the overall cookware market. Lodge’s sales have doubled since 2008, thanks to Americans’ renewed interest in traditional cookery and all things Americana.
That surge in sales previously meant that Lodge struggled to keep pace with demand for cast iron, despite the company’s relentless investment in new technology over the years. This growth comes on the heels of a major expansion to the existing foundry completed in 2015, which added steel melting and sand systems, a molding line, and an expansion to the existing seasoning lines. That boosted the company’s production capacity by nearly 50 percent, and the new facilities will grow it by a further 75 percent.
This expansion will also grow Lodge’s workforce by nearly 33 percent, adding an additional 92 employees to the current payroll and bolstering its role as a job provider in southeast Tennessee.
“For more than 100 years, Lodge has been crafting products that can be found in kitchens ranging from world famous restaurants to your grandmother’s home and everything in between,” said Randy Boyd, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. “Lodge products represent a tradition that can be passed down through generations, and we’re proud to have those traditions begin in Tennessee. I want to thank Lodge for its continued commitment to South Pittsburg and for supporting Tennessee’s reputation of high quality craftsmanship and the artisan strength of our workforce.”
All of Lodge’s cast iron is made in its Tennessee plant, with the exception of the enameled line. You can watch the construction of the new warehouse as it unfolds on a timelapse webcam feed overlooking the construction site.