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Memphis Record Pressing gears up for $28.8 million expansion

The vinyl record maker produced 6.5 million records in 2021.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is known for its music and the legendary artists the city continues to produce, but the Bluff City is making a name for itself in the vinyl records industry thanks to Memphis Record Pressing.

Memphis Record Pressing is one of the largest manufacturers of vinyl records in the country. They produced 6.5 million of the 41.5 million records made in 2021. 

Vinyl records have become so popular again that the current building feels a little cramped and Memphis Record Pressing is upping their production with a big expansion.

In an age of digital streaming and downloads, there’s something about owning a record that stands the test of time. 

Memphis Record Pressing COO, Mark Yoshida, said that's because of two things - collectability and the experience.

"The album cover is a piece of art. So the collectability parts there, the experience is you have to be in a room, you have to kind of slow your life down, you have to have a turntable and it's more of a social thing," Yoshida said.

Memphis Record Pressing started as a CD manufacturer in 1997, but when digital downloads became a major player around 2008, founders Mark Yoshida and Brandon Seavers quickly found out they’d have to pivot.

"At that point, we just started seeing a resurgence of vinyl records, it was kind of surprising, not knowing where it was going to go. We just felt like it was really as a manufacturer, there was no other format available," Yoshida said.

The company bought a bunch of old presses in 2014 and initially there was a learning curve with the new equipment.

It was a totally different animal," Yoshida said. "Because in the CD industry, the equipment, you buy it, you plug it up, and you start making records, and it's all computer-controlled. With vinyl, they were analog mechanical machines, and it was more of an art to try to get those running."

The demand for vinyl records has exploded. MRP produced 880,000 records in its first year. In 2022, they project 11 million and said the demand means it’s time to expand.

"The capacity needs are incredible with what all major labels, independent labels, independent artists, everybody's wanting vinyl records now, so and it doesn't look like they're slowing down at all, we're pretty much booked throughout this year," Yoshida said.

MRP is adding two buildings. One 33,000 square foot space will add 36 record presses to their capacity giving them 54 presses total. That one is adjacent to their facility in Bartlett. Another 100,000 square foot facility in Memphis will handle packaging and logistics. All told, a $28.8 million expansion will allow for MRP to pump out 125,000 records a day.

The company received Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) financing from the cities of Bartlett and Memphis. The financing will save Memphis Record Pressing about $2.8 million over the next 10 years. 

In a city known for its stars, MRP is putting their own stamp on Memphis’ musical notoriety.

"Obviously, Elvis and you got Stax and just so many different things. So I'm proud to be a part of that and hopefully, we can add to the legacy of Memphis," Yoshida said.

Memphis Record Pressing said their new press facility should be ready by September while the packaging plant will open in June 2023. 

They currently employ about 200 people and plan to hire over 250 new employees.