GRI installs new equipment

Published 12:07 am Thursday, March 26, 2015

From left, Tim Lynskey, Tom Queen, Tyner Hacker and Patrick Wesley work to calibrate Great River Industries’ new 600-ton flanger. It along with the new 600-ton head press, left, were purchased as a part of an expansion the company announced in July.  (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

From left, Tim Lynskey, Tom Queen, Tyner Hacker and Patrick Wesley work to calibrate Great River Industries’ new 600-ton flanger. It along with the new 600-ton head press, left, were purchased as a part of an expansion the company announced in July. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Great River Industries should start production with approximately $4 million in new head-press equipment next week.

The equipment has been installed and the company was in the process of commissioning and testing the new machinery, a 600-ton press and flanger. The new equipment sits on what was a giant pit in the bulkhead production area four months ago, dug out to pour a foundation that could support the weight of the machinery.

The 400-ton press the company already has in operation has the capacity to press three-fourths-inch thick steel heads, while the new press will be able to press one-and-a-half-inch thick heads.

When everything is operational, the shop will — depending on the order — need 25-30 employees on the floor, GRI Vice President for Business development Aaron Shermer said.

The shop will run in three daily shifts.

The equipment was manufactured in China, shipped by sea over three months and reassembled in Natchez.

The company announced in July a plan to expand its floor space by 15 percent and locate its corporate offices from Memphis to the Natchez-Adams County Port area.

The floor space expansion will incorporate a pipe manufacturing operation. Shermer said the relocation of white-collar workers is under way, but the company is waiting to build new office spaces until after the production expansion is complete.

The foundation for the 10,000-square foot pipe shop is set and crews with R.L. Blanton Construction are erecting the frame. Shermer said he is looking to have electricity run to the shop by the end of April and to have the entire thing in operation by May.

When it starts up, the shop will need pipe fabrication shop managers, pipe fitters, welders and industrial X-ray technicians, Shermer said.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said the economic development body and its partners are pleased with the growth of GRI.

“They continue to grow and exceed everyone’s expectations, “ Russ said. “Their newly created direct jobs, indirect jobs and millions in capital investment are an example of the importance of economic development in our region.  We continue to wish them great success in the future.”

GRI’s work includes large-scale, specialty engineering, fabrication and construction services to customers in the oil and gas, power generation, liquefied natural gas, petro-chemical and other industries.

Applications to work for GRI can be made in person at the company’s 21 Moran Road location or at the WIN Job Center at 107 Col. John Pitchford Parkway.

GRI was formerly known as Enersteel.