Clickstop building up in Urbana

by Tim Kenyon

CEDAR RAPIDS – The Clickstop e-commerce firm plans a new facility and to nearly double the company’s workforce in Urbana.

Shaun Linderbaum said rapid growth of the five-year-old business he co-owns with Tim Guenther sparked the idea to build a facility on a 9-acre site off Highway 150 viewable from Interstate 380 in the Blue Creek Industrial Park.

Construction should start in July on the 35,000-square-foot combined office and warehouse. Urbana city officials are finalizing the civil engineering plans. Road construction will start in June. A January opening is targeted.

“We’re pretty excited to be working on our new facility. It was probably about a year ago that we thought we needed to start talking about it,” Mr. Linderbaum said. “Our options included expanding our current facility, which we’d actually finished expanding in January 2009.”

Business is booming for the firm that owns several web sites that sell cargo control, fitness, pet furniture and home insulation products.

“This month of April was our best month ever. We’re on pace to doubling our sales for the year, which we hit just short of $5 million,” Mr. Linderbaum said. “This year’s been so far, so good, and the economy is set to be taking a turn for positive in the next six to eight weeks, and we’re riding that tail wind for sure.”

Planning is paramount for the two owners.

“We certainly want to build for the long term as we seek sustainability and to be a consistent growing business,” Mr. Linderbaum said. “We’ve reinvested the majority of our profit in the business.”

The new facility will aid efficiency, Mr. Guenther said.

“Our accuracy and speed metrics will become more stringent because we’ll have the means to hold ourselves to an even higher standard,” he said.

The company ranked fourth in the 2009 Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies list, and will be recognized on the list again this year.

Mr. Linderbaum feels fortunate the company has maneuvered through an overall tough economic period.

“The economic situation for many businesses has been devastating while it’s been a great opportunity for us,” he said. “We are fueling up the rocket ship. We’ve taken the opportunity to buy software equipment and plan a good facility and hire very talented employees. It’s been a unique time in history to be able to do that.”

“We’re already the second-largest private employer in the city. Part of the economic development agreement calls for us to increase to and maintain 45 jobs,” he said. “Right now, we have 23 so we’re responsible to create 22 more jobs in the next four years. That’s a pretty reasonable number for us as we expect to produce a lot more jobs than that.”

Positions include information technology, Internet marketing, sales and management, he said.

Economic growth packaging, influence

The owners of Clickstop’s future location in the Blue Creek Industrial Park, the Elwick family, wanted to put some of their farm land up for economic development use, Mr. Linderbaum said, leading to creation of the park.

Talks helped by City Clerk Chris Justice ensued. Mr. Justice said the city received $440,000 in state funds to use toward about $1 million in roadwork leading up to the facility.

Mr. Justice is optimistic Clickstop’s new facility will boost business interest in the small Benton County town.

“We certainly hope so. We’re a fairly small town but we’re in a good location with two interstate exits that are relatively midway (from Cedar Rapids) to Waterloo,” he said. “Urbana has been quietly successful in attracting commercial business. We just weren’t as visible, but this (Clickstop’s plan) will increase that.”

FedEx’s $2 million distribution facility opening two years ago was another example of the community’s recent business development, he said.

 “We want people to drive up and down I-380 knowing there is more to the Corridor than Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. There’s a north link to it,” Mr. Justice said. “We’re just as capable to put together economic development packages for businesses.”

Urbana will provide $315,000 in tax incremental financing gradually over eight years to Clickstop. The city is providing the company $70,000 upfront toward the near $400,000 land cost.

The building cost is an estimated $2.1 million, Mr. Linderbaum said.