Raining Rose Keeps Customers Happy During Move

By Dave DeWitte, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - At Raining Rose, a growing supplier of private-label personal care products in Cedar Rapids, things are moving fast.

Labeling machines are moving, employees are moving, computers are moving — in fact, the whole company has begun moving into a new $12 million headquarters and production facility at 3015 First Ave. SE.

Raining Rose produces lip balms, shampoos, soaps and other personal care formulas using natural and high-purity products. Many of them are vegan, including no animal-based products.

The occupancy permit was issued Sept. 28, and the move began Monday with the expectation that it will take about two weeks.

The new location will give Raining Rose capacity to double production of lip balms, soaps, skin lotions and other products.

Before moving day, though, Raining Rose had to find a way to keep customers happy during a roughly one-week shutdown of batch production, and a one-day shutdown of labeling and packaging operations. Its customers are now beginning to stock their holiday inventory.

Complicating matters further, Raining Rose is consolidating operations from 407 Ninth Ave. and two other nearby buildings, all located more than a mile away.

Raining Rose President Chuck Hammond said there's only one way to do it — planning.

"We had a group of people who met with every department, talking about what their needs, special concerns and requirements are in the move," Hammond recalled.

He said the committee laid out a day-by-day schedule showing when each area of the company would be relocated.

Chief Financial Officer Judy Lubben was part of the four-member committee that began meeting to plan the move six months ago, and has been meeting twice a week in recent months.

Lubben said a big part of the effort involved producing enough of an inventory backlog to get through the production shutdown. The growing company was already in a space squeeze, and storing that inventory took up so much of the limited remaining space that the existing storage space was practically bulging with product.

T&M Services, a Cedar Rapids moving and installation company, was brought in to to handle the physical moving. All Seasons Cleaning of Cedar Rapids signed up to deep-clean the facility before the move-in to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

Signs taped throughout the new building shout "CLEAN" to denote areas that have already been cleaned and should be protected from contamination during the moving process.

As the move revved up Thursday, Lubben said it was clear that no matter how much you plan, you can't cover everything.

"It's a lot of miscellaneous things you don't think of until the last minute," she said.

The building's energy-efficient design is expected to achieve LEED Silver green certification, and the process flow is anticipated to be more efficient than previous facilities.

The design and decor of the new building reflect not only the unique concerns of the company's business supplying contracted, private label and promotional products rather than its own branded products.

The concerns include product purity, sanitation and protecting the confidentiality of clients who have Raining Rose make products to their own formula, but don't want customers to know the products were made by anyone else except them.

The 150,000-square-foot facility includes an exercise room, break room and lactation area for employees, scattered and "consultation areas" designed for impromptu meetings. Hand-wash stations are located around all production areas.

While the old locations didn't integrate functions well, the new facility has windows connecting the headquarters offices and conference rooms to the production floor.

The facility was constructed at the long-ago site of Allis-Chalmers, which some argue invented the bulldozer in Cedar Rapids by adding a earth blade to the front of a tractor.

Raining Rose reinstalled some of the old steel grate-style windows from the Allis-Chalmers factory into the lobby of the new building as a nod to history. A finishing touch will be the outdoor installation of a Allis-Chalmers tractor presented to Raining Rose by Primus Construction, which built the facility.
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