This year has been a transformative one for those in the hot tub industry who have found themselves having to adjust to a post-pandemic world. For many, that has meant preparing for sales to return to normal or pulling back on production rates, but for the staff of King Technology, it has meant opening an entirely new $14.5 million facility in a new town.
After more than 40 years being run out of Hopkins, Minnesota, the water care manufacturer moved just two miles away from its former office, into its new home at 6000 Clearwater Drive, in Minnetonka, Minnesota. And yes, the street name is purely coincidental, or as the company’s regional sales manager, Alex King, puts it: “A divine coincidence.” What isn’t a coincidence is Alex’s last name.
The company was founded by Alex’s grandfather, Lloyd, and his father, Joe, making it a third-generation family business.
According to Alex, the two patriarchs of his family began working together in 1979, just after his father had graduated from the University of Minnesota, and his grandfather had concocted an idea for a spa product called the Sani King. They brought the product to market, and Joe remains CEO to this day.
“When we started, the spa market back then was small,” Alex says. “It was a much smaller industry than it is today. We’ve evolved over the years.”
That decades-long slow and steady evolution got a powerful shot in the arm with the pandemic, which created such dramatic demand for hot tub products that King Technology was able to make bigger moves years ahead of schedule.
“We started looking at the new location in 2021 because we were already reaching the point where we were at capacity at our old office,” Alex says. “But then, with the growth fueled by the pandemic, the increase in revenue, we needed to increase our headcount.”
Alex says that, before the pandemic, King Technology wasn’t planning to move into the new office space for another three to five years. “Suddenly,” Alex says, “that got rolled into a one-year plan.”
With all that extra revenue, King Technology was able to literally purchase a bank — or, at least, the former office of Minnetonka’s Associated Bank, which at roughly 100,000 square feet would be a dramatic change from the company’s previous home, which was only 25,000 square feet.
At the time of this writing, there is still a lot of empty space to fill. Alex says the company is not quite finished adding furnishings or filling all the available jobs. And because part of the transition will mean turning many of the office spaces into laboratories for chemical testing, no one is expecting it to happen overnight.
Dan Longhenry, King Technology’s director of engineering, believes the new labs will be more than worth the wait.
“We are excited about our new innovation campus, which boasts four times the [research and development] space, and features state-of-the-art chemistry and microbiology labs,” Longhenry says. “These investments will increase the speed of innovation and shorten our product development timeline, allowing us to develop water care solutions that make ownership easy.”
Besides more room to develop new products, what many other employees are likely excited about are the improvements to the new space. Alex says the company has always considered enriching the daily lives of their employees to be a top priority, and with the larger location he sees opportunities to add amenities that do just that. The old location had a workout facility, but the expansion will allow for a yoga instructor or massage therapist to come in. “Just stuff that enhances the physical wellbeing of our employees,” Alex says.
Other improvements are standing desks; natural lighting from windows in every office; walking paths and more, all designed to benefit employee quality of life.
“Whatever new space we’re looking for, we wanted to be sure it is something that people actually want to come to,” Alex notes.