Jacksonville-based Load King Manufacturing Co. is a privately held company that has operated quietly for 43 years in West Jacksonville, near Downtown.
Every now and then, it surfaces publicly, providing a glimpse into a company whose products most people likely have touched or seen.
The company, based at 1357 W. Beaver St., creates store interiors for the food-service industry. It designs, builds and installs commercial furniture, kiosks, countertops, graphics and more.
Think AMC, Starbucks, Target and, its first customer, Winn-Dixie.
It recently applied for a building permit to create a new prototype room in its corporate offices and factory.
That permit asks to build-out about 3,400 square feet of space in its factory for presentations and employee meetings. It would include a kitchen, cooler and freezer, storage and supply space.
Load King is the contractor for the $185,000 project.
The company declined an interview.
State records show Load King was incorporated in 1972 and appears to remain a family-led company. Along with President Charles O. Chupp, officers include David Peek, Carrie Chupp and Todd Chupp, according to state records filed Jan. 19.
Its website details its decades-long presence in Jacksonville.
The site says the company was founded in 1973 by James Merrill Chupp. With his two sons, James Jr. and Charles, he began manufacturing equipment for the supermarket industry.
It specialized in stainless steel tables, sinks, trays, and other furnishings for delicatessens, pharmacies and other in-store departments.
In 1995, Load King adapted to changing market conditions and began providing a turnkey solution for the food-service industry.
It says its clients call it “a store in a truck.”
In a January 2010 story in The Florida Times-Union, Load King talked about its move toward positioning itself as a one-stop shop serving smaller stores. It could load the interior furnishings, along with refrigerators and equipment made elsewhere, and outfit a store in three to four days.
Some of its other high-profile customers include Albertsons, Aramark, Daily’s Dash, Edible Arrangements, Harris Teeter, Safeway and Target.
It also branched outside food service, having worked with Edwin Watts Golf, building 12 store interiors in 12 weeks, and with Baptist Health, printing new graphics for its Northeast Florida locations, according to loadking.com.
The site says the company continues to operate out of its initial building, a 1919 structure renovated for its use. That site, which reportedly was Winn-Dixie’s headquarters before it moved further west, grew to more than 200,000 square feet of production space by the time Load King moved in.
Records show the company also has more space nearby, and its website says it possesses 300,000 square feet of production space “to satisfy the demand of even the largest of projects.”
Load King also owns and operates a full-service graphics and printing company.
It has continued to evolve in the economically distressed New Town section of Jacksonville, employing at least 150 people, according to a recent Facebook post by mayoral candidate Lenny Curry.
State Rep. Lake Ray, president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association, said he toured Load King several years ago when Gov. Rick Scott visited the facility.
Ray said the factory combined manual labor with technology. He also believes it has offered apprenticeship programs, enabling people to learn a trade.
“The reason manufacturing is so important is that is where your middle class came from,” he said.
He said every job created in manufacturing spins off two more, effectively resulting in three jobs.
Ray said Load King isn’t a member of the manufacturers association, although it has been.
As always, Ray said, it’s good to see a manufacturer expand and evolve.
“They’ve been a long-standing company in our community,” he said.
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