Work starts on building expansion at Percival Scientific

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Representatives of Septagon Construction Co. and Percival Scientific pose for a photo during a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, April 14.

Percival Scientific recently broke ground on a building expansion that will allow the business to continue to grow in Perry.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 14 for an around 33,000 square-foot addition on the north side of Percival’s current building, located at 505 Research Dr, Perry.

President/CEO Gary Wheelock said the over $3 million project will help expand the company’s production space by between 50 and 60%. A portion will also be used for additional space for an employee break room and training.

Percival Scientific manufactures a line of controlled environment chambers. Wheelock said the chambers are mainly sold to those doing research in plant and animal sciences and the company has products in all 50 states and in over 79 countries.

“Basically what we do is produce chambers that mimic Mother Nature, so they can grow or do research to see how the environment affects what they’re doing,” Wheelock said.

Employees work at Percival Scientific. The company has started work on an expansion project to add more production space to its current building in Perry.

The company moved to Perry in the spring of 2000 into its current 60,000 square-foot facility. 

“We continue to grow, especially in our larger walk-in project business, which takes a pretty big footprint on the production floor,” Wheelock said.

Currently, he said they have space to build four to five walk-in chambers. The company has started to get projects that require multiple walk-in units and they would have to build a few, take them down and store them until more could be built to fill the order. 

“This is going to allow us to set up and build multiple units all at once,” Wheelock said of the expansion project.

The expansion has been in the works for around two and a half years. Everything was in place to start building in the spring of 2020 and then the project was delayed because of COVID-19.

More:Announcement at Percival Scientific highlights record level of Iowa investments through Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program

“Part of the process of deciding to add on to the facility was facilitated by getting two USDA loans,” Wheelock said.

Percival was awarded two $1 million loans through the USDA as well as loan partners Minburn Communications and Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO). The loans, announced in October of 2020, are part of $16.8 million that the USDA is investing in 25 projects in rural Iowa through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.

Percival worked with Perry Economic Development, the City of Perry, Minburn Communications, CIPCO and the Iowa Area Development Group to apply for the loans and for other assistance on the expansion project.

“It kind of takes a village to get something done. It took a little longer to get where we got to, but without everybody’s assistance I don’t think we would have been able to pull this off,” Wheelock said.

The ground is broken for a building expansion at Percival Scientific on Wednesday, April 14. From left, Daniel Kiekhaefer (VP of Engineering), Jesse Smith (VP of Manufacturing), Gary Wheelock (President/CEO), Henry Imberti (Sr. VP of Engineering) and Joni Campidilli (VP of Sales/Marketing). Not pictured: Mitch Yates (VP of Purchasing).

He is excited to see the project continue moving forward now that ground has broken on the new expansion. 

“We’re just very happy to be here, very happy to be part of the community,” he said.

Wheelock added that some in and around Perry may not know what Percival Scientific does, or that the company sells all over the world.

“It’s been a unique experience to be part of this company and see it grow and continue to evolve and I want to continue doing that,” he said.

Percival Scientific has broken ground on a building expansion that will add additional production space to its current facility in Perry.