Knife maker to put HQ, big factory in Leander

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Williamson County

Published on

Aug 25th, 2021

A company that makes cutlery plans to open its first United States manufacturing facility in Leander, a milestone economic development project that could bring up to 300 jobs to one the fastest-growing cities in the country.

Cangshan Cutlery Company announced Aug. 24 plans to build a 400,000-square-facility on a 41-acre site at 204 Heritage Grove Road in North Leander, near the Texas Bullion Depository. The company expects to break ground early next year and open the facility in 2023, reaching 300 employees at the site by 2025. Cangshan is purchasing the land.

In addition, Cangshan is moving its international headquarters to Leander from Chino, California.

Cameron Goodman, Leander’s economic development director, said hiring 300 people would make Cangshan one of the city’s largest employers. The 400,000-square-foot facility would give it one of the city’s largest real estate footprints.

“It’s huge for us,” Goodman said. “We’re focused on bringing primary jobs to the community.”

The jobs created in the Austin suburb will include employees relocated from Chino, but most will be new hires. The California site would likely shut down once the Leander facility is fully up and running. Cangshan Cutlery was founded by Henry Liu and has more than 800 employees worldwide, including distribution and office space in Chino. The company produces high-end cutlery that is sold at Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel and Costco, and has brand ambassadors, including world-renowned and Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller.

Liu said in a statement that the move to Leander was precipitated by a desire to manufacture a premium cutlery line in the United States. The planned facility will include state-of-the-art production capabilities along with sales, marketing and administrative operations.

“As a first-generation immigrant, I am inspired by the possibilities of the promise of America. I see it in the spirit and creativity of my employees and I see it in the town of Leander, Texas. I am truly excited about bringing the vision of creating a premium American-made cutlery line to life,” he said.

Incentives details

The announcement came after the company on Aug. 24 was approved for a joint incentives package from the city of Leander and Williamson County that rebates up to $5.5 million in local ad valorem and sales tax dollars from the new development. It was previously approved unanimously by Leander City Council on May 20.

“It is clearly a project that is a cut above all of the other economic development projects here in Williamson County,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said Aug. 24 after the Chapter 381 agreement was passed unanimously.

As part of the agreements, Cangshan Cutlery is required to invest at least $40 million in property improvements and equipment at the site and add permanent full-time jobs to the area, according to the announcement. The company is projecting annual revenue will climb to $150 million with the new site. It is required to have 150 employees once the factory is up and running, and grow to 300 from there.

“We’re so excited to welcome Cangshan Cutlery to our community,” Leander Mayor Christine Sederquist said in a statement. “Just like us, Cangshan is experiencing considerable growth, and I think Leander is the perfect place for these types of expanding businesses to thrive.”

The relocation is part of a flood of new factories to the area and is a significant step in the evolution of the Leander economy. The city’s population grew faster than any other U.S. city with at least 50,000 residents from 2018 to 2019, with an estimated climb of 12%, according to Census Bureau data. As of the 2020 Census, its population reached 59,202.

Leander officials have moved to keep up with that growth. One of the most notable projects underway in Leander is the 115-acre Northline project, which is a downtown-like mixed-use project south of San Gabriel Parkway between U.S. Highway 183 and the 183A toll road, less than a mile from the northernmost stop of the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority train line. The project plans to bring 700,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail space, 150,000 square feet of hotel space, 2,000 apartments, 300 townhomes and civic spaces to the city.

The 32-acre 29 Gateway project also received the go-ahead from the Council and developers said they plan on breaking ground later this year. The development is expected to include at least 200,000 square feet of commercial space, open park space and more than 300 luxury apartments in a five-story masonry complex with a rooftop pool and parking garage.

But the Cangshan Cutlery project marks “a first for Leander,” in terms of the size of the manufacturing facility, according to Goodman, who said “we’re really, really excited about it.”

He said that the city has pursued manufacturers to drive economic growth and became connected with the company through a broker. The company was drawn to the city because of its location, available land, utilities and area workforce.

“I think they were competitively looking at other areas in the region and settled on Leander,” said Goodman, who called it a “great thing for the community.”

He said that it builds on the momentum of other projects, including Northline, and that they’re hoping to continue those gains, including with other projects they’re hoping to announce later this year.

“We’re really trying to create a place where you can live, work and play,” he said.

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