Demand for automation spurs growth of Bedford County company

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FOREST, Va. Robotic arms simplify the production process at Simplimatic Automation in Forest. The company uses the equipment to help its manufacturing clients tackle a variety of jobs.

"Robotics can both reduce labor and improve product quality," said Simplimatic's President and CEO, Thomas DiNardo.

In the last five years, DiNardo says demand has gone way up for the products and services his company provides.

"Especially as labor costs have started to rise, we've seen a big surge of robotics," DiNardo said.

The influx of business has allowed Simplimatic to expand. Last year the company moved into a brand new, 60,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Bedford County.

"We've grown substantially over the last two to three years," explained DiNardo. "We've grown our business year-over-year by 40 percent."

As new customers have come on board, Simplimatic's workforce has grown as well. The company has added around 60 new positions since 2014.

Some of those jobs have remained open, because in some cases Simplimatic hasn't been able to find qualified people to do the work.

"The need for experienced people, engineers with four-year degrees, is something that has been open for a while," said Simplimatic's Chief Financial Officer, Sara Orange.

The company is actively looking for engineers who can do electrical and mechanical work, and help program software.

"It is hard to get people to want to move here," Orange said. "Once they come here they love it and enjoy it."

Simplimatic leaders hope people will be attracted to the steady work. They expect demand for automation to grow and, with their new facility, they're poised to meet the need of clients in every part of the world.

"It's an area where I see a lot of growth coming in the future," said DiNardo.