CEO Norman Asbjornson broke ground Wednesday afternoon on a new research and development lab at AAON Inc.

The $26 million facility on the company’s sprawling west Tulsa campus will be three stories tall and 75,000 square feet. It will be the air conditioning, heating and ventilation company’s means of testing both product effectiveness and the amount of noise it makes.

A company release said it will be “only lab in the world able to measure the supply, return and ambient sound under actual load conditions.”

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Asbjornson said innovation and technology is necessary to lead the industry and that the new facility will help the company he founded do that.

The new research lab isn’t the only expansion going on at AAON, which employs about 1,400 at 2425 S. Yukon Ave. A football field or so away, the company is expanding its manufacturing facility too.

Asbjornson said the facility will create 15 to 20 new jobs, but, if it’s successful, it could create many more over time.

Construction will start later this year. The outside of the building should be finished by the end of the year, the inside in 2017, and it should be ready by 2018, according to the company.

AAON marketing manager Eric Taylor said the company’s expansion of its existing manufacturing will be completed this year and will add 66,000 square feet.

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Samuel Hardiman 918-581-8466