CORYDON, Ind. – Indianapolis-based Lucas Oil Products Inc. on Tuesday celebrated the opening of its expanded grease manufacturing operations at its production facility in Corydon.

The company has dedicated a new production area inside the 400,000-square-foot plant to developing and manufacturing industrial and commercial greases, with plans to add nearly a dozen new jobs.

CEO Morgan Lucas said the space will help the company increase its output, efficiency and ability to develop more advanced grease formulations.

Lucas told Inside INdiana Business that the expansion was necessary because of a national grease shortage that was exacerbated by a fire that destroyed a production facility run by one of the company’s suppliers.

“They were our primary supplier of green grease,” he said. “These are all our formulations, but they were producing, manufacturing it, and packaging it for us. When that happened, it created a massive vacuum in the space not just for us, but our competitors as well.”

Lucas said the company began thinking about setting up its own manufacturing operation after the fire in order to have more control of the production of its grease products and their delivery to consumers.

“It’s about the consumer. It’s about making sure that the product is readily available for them,” he said. “Not to mention as an ISO certified company, we are afforded the opportunity to keep an eye on the quality control aspects of what we’re doing as well. If we wanted to pivot on a label change or do things, it gives us a little more flexibility, not to mention that we’re going to have the baseline and understanding of how to expand into bigger volumes of grease for a different marketplace, different customers.”

The facility is dedicated to manufacturing Lucas Oil’s signature greases: Red ‘N’ Tacky, X-Tra Heavy Duty, and Marine. The new operation means that Lucas Oil now produces virtually all of its products in-house, with the exception of brake fluid and aerosols.

“We’re very excited about it because it opens a lot of doors that previously we really didn’t consider because we didn’t have the flexibility or just we weren’t dynamic enough for that.”

The Corydon plant currently employs about 250 people. The new jobs include management, equipment operations, packaging, warehouse operations, and administrative positions.

Lucas Oil is only adding a small number of jobs with the new operation, Lucas said, because much of the process is automated and doesn’t require a large portion of the plant’s workforce. But, he said there is room for growth.

“The goal and the hope is that we’re going to expand this grease operation in the future, which will add a lot more jobs and continue to kind of grow this base that we’re starting right now,” he said.

Since moving production to Corydon in 2002, the company has invested more than $50 million in Harrison County. Darrell Voelker, executive director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corp., said the county is thrilled at Lucas Oil’s commitment.

“A multimillion-dollar investment is a huge deal for this county,” he said. “But they’re doing something that’s going to be sent around the world immediately, and you have to believe that it’s sustainable for the long term. Then also that helps the Harrison County community get its name and around the world, too.”

Lucas said the decision to expand the operation in Corydon was a personal one, having spent a lot of his youth in southern Indiana. He credited the local community and the state for creating a business-friendly environment that made the decision easy.

“It just makes sense to be there,” he said. “Our personnel is there, and we love that community. We are trying to invest in the community the best that we can. We work with the local chamber and politicians to find new ways to get involved. We have a rail line there that reaches to Louisville, so that way we can get a lot of raw materials that we need. And it’s just a great community in general.”