Company to bring 75 new jobs

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT— Jeffrey P. Hock, president of Enerfab, discusses the company’s decision to construct a new facility in Adams County. The facility will specialize in fabricated steel plate products that include storage tanks and pressure vessels for industrial process markets.

NATCHEZ — No one thought to pipe in the fitting James Brown tune Tuesday morning, but everyone who participated in the announcement of a new manufacturing company set to employee 100 people in Adams County shared the same thought.

“I feel good,” Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton said to the crowd of approximately 100 standing in the hot sun on the Natchez bluff. “I feel like somebody needs to put James Brown on playing ‘I feel good.’”

Enersteel, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Enerfab, wrapped up the purchase of existing Dynasteel facilities and began production at the Adams County Port last week, Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said.

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The company, in exchange for tax abatement on new machinery needed to upgrade the facility and a few state incentives, has agreed to create 75 new jobs and invest $7 million to re-purpose the Dynasteel facility.

Much of Dynasteel’s existing workforce will be retained.

The company immediately will begin adding employees and starting workforce training, Russ said, hiring many of the new employees in the next 12 to 18 months.

Rep. Gregg Harper, left, talks to Natchez resident Bruce Brice Sr. Friday morning on the Natchez Bluff after Enerfab representatives announced that they have begun manufacturing operations in Natchez. The Natchez facility will create 75 new jobs.

The average salary will be $40,000, Russ said. The company’s annual payroll will be $4 million.

Enersteel must hire the 75 new workers within a 24-month period to meet the obligations of its agreement with Natchez Inc.

Enerfab President Jeffrey P. Hock said Enerfab was founded under a different name in 1901 as a brewing company. In the early 1980s, it expanded into servicing the petrochemical industry, construction and fabrication.

The company has built equipment used by beer companies Miller and Anheuser-Busch. It also supplies the orange juice industry.

“If you have ever consumed not-from-concentrate juice, you have probably touched our product,” he said.

The Natchez facility will specialize in fabricated steel plate products, including large storage tanks and pressure vessels for industrial process markets. It will also produce ductwork and other major air-quality control components for the power generation industry — work Dynasteel was doing.

Dynasteel had done contract work for Enersteel in the past, so the company was familiar with the Natchez facility, Russ said.

Dynasteel — in business since 1970 — opened its Natchez facility 1987. Business picked up considerably by 2008, when the company had 228 employees in Natchez.

In recent years the Natchez facility of Dynasteel had declined in work and staffing, Russ said.

“They had scaled back very significantly, but hadn’t stopped (production),” Russ said.

Enerfab also considered sites in Houston and Ohio, where they have an idle facility, Russ said.

“We sat down with them and developed a needs list, asking what do you need to make it work here,” Russ said.

A ready workforce and training available through Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the WIN Job Center were big factors, he said.

The Mississippi Development Authority also offered a grant to help offset the moving of some needed equipment. In addition Enersteel qualifies for a state payroll rebate because it will create more than 25 jobs with an average salary above 110 percent of the county average.

“With the local abatement it made our site economically feasible,” Russ said.

The Natchez site will be the first manufacturing site for Enersteel. Hock said the proximity to the river and location at the port will allow the company to easily ship supplies in and out.

Russ said Enersteel will work mainly with pre-fabricated steel plates.

Tuesday’s economic development announcement was the second in two months for Natchez Inc., the economic development engine for the city and county, formed through a public-private partnership last summer.

And that, state and local officials said, was the reason James Brown was needed.

“You have the hardest working team in show business,” said MDA Deputy Director Whit Hughes. “And I want to extend my gratitude to the team from Natchez Inc.”

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper attended the ceremony as well, saying he was happy to be back so soon after the June announcement of Elevance Renewable Sciences.

“It was name after name, group after group (that made this happen),” Harper said. “Because it is a team effort. You cannot do it by yourself. This is a regional effort, and I look forward to great things in the future.”

Natchez Inc. Board Chairwoman Sue Stedman said Natchez Inc. learned of the opportunity to recruit the company in April and has been quickly and actively pursuing it since then.

Stedman said the industry should create 150 indirect jobs in the service industry, annually spreading $10 million across the local economy.

Middleton and Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell welcomed Hock and Enersteel, and Middleton awarded Hock a key to the city.