Waterloo Industries, 1500 Waterloo Drive, is moving its corporate headquarters to Sedalia, it was announced Wednesday afternoon by CEO Bill Nictakis.

Waterloo is the only manufacturer of tool storage products that are sold at retail outlets in the US, he said. “We are the only US manufacturer left. We're going to be here for a long, long time,” Nictakis said, noting that the company observed US Manufacturing Week.

AFI Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, bought Waterloo Industries in September, 2015. The company had been owned by Fortune Brands for roughly 20 years. The company's sole source of revenue since 1957 has been metal tool boxes, according to the company's website. (The company originally began as the Waterloo Valve Spring Compressor Company, founded by Croatian immigrant Nicholas Sulentic in Waterloo, Iowa in 1922).

“A little over year ago, we had a choice. We had a factory in Nogales (Mexico), and a factory in Sedalia, and we only need one, where's it going to go? And we chose Sedalia,” he said to applause from the group gathered to hear his announcement. “There were a lot of skeptics, frankly. Everybody talks about outsourcing, but the reality is that the decision wasn't based on analytics, but on the people. We have 400 employees with an average tenure of 15 years. We didn't have that in Mexico. There's a lot of pride, experience and passion in our workforce. So we think we made the right decision a year ago by shutting down Mexico and moving production here. And now we know we made the right decision,” Nictakis said. “This is a great place for us to do business and be in business for a long, long time.”

Waterloo closed the Nogales factory in March, 2015.

Nictakis added that Waterloo has added 70 full-time jobs locally over the past year. Around 55 of them are in production, he noted. Other are management positions. “I'm proud of that and I'm proud of the people who have joined our team. We're really getting some top-notch talent.”

Nictakis noted that Waterloo now ships product to Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply, Blaine's, Costco.com and Amazon. “That's a tribute to the people we have in Sedalia, it's a tribute to the quality of product that we make day in and day out,” he said. “So we're just scratching the surface on our ability to grow this business significantly by developing better products and also frankly, we want to make some acquisitions down the road.”

Nictakis also noted that Waterloo, with a half-million square feet of space is currently at 60 percent capacity utilization on a full-year basis. “Let's make some strategic investments in things that require bending and forming metal, because we're pretty good at that,” he said.

The CEO revealed that Waterloo will begin a 10 to 12-week apprentice program next summer. "We consistently need great people. So we're going to ask 'Who are your best students?'" Nictakis said. "Because if we get the best people, we know we're going to accelerate our chances of success and growth in the future." He added that Waterloo spent $3 million in capital this past year to make the factory better. "We're going to spend $3 million next year to make us more competitive," he said to a large group gathered in the main plant's parking lot on a sunny Wednesday afternoon.

Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Galliher thanked Waterloo for calling Sedalia home. "We want to thank you for all you've done. You can't think of Sedalia without thinking of Waterloo, they run hand in hand. We have very good folks here, as you know," he told Nictakis. "All of Sedalia is a good team."

Pettis County Presiding Commissioner David Dick noted that Waterloo has the right partners with SFCC and Sedalia School District 200. "And to have a successful future, you build on a firm foundation, and you've certainly got that," Dick said, adding that Waterloo has had roots in Sedalia for 38 years.

Rep Denny Hoskins, R-54, said it was no surprise that Waterloo picked Sedalia over Mexico, with the outstanding community support we have in Pettis County. "We really appreciate everything you do here, and the 70 employees that you hired," Hoskins said, pledging his support for Waterloo through the Missouri State Legislature.

Rusty Kahrs, president of the Board of Directors Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County (EDSPC), presented Nictakis and his plant manager, Phil Frecking, with a plaque recognizing Waterloo's achievements.

Frecking noted that there is still an office in Waterloo, Iowa, but the bulk of the sales force, IT, etc., are now moving to Sedalia where the main functions take place.

Terry Maglich, Manager of Economic Development at State of Missouri, said that both Sedalia and Missouri have made a concerted effort to make success stories like Waterloo happen. "And with people like (former EDSPC Executive Director) Linda Christle and now new EDSPC Executive Director) Jessica Craig, we're going to continue our efforts and make this grow and grow," Maglich said.

Kahrs noted that Waterloo was able to take advantage of the Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) and the Missouri Works incentive.