A Maine-based aluminum trailer manufacturer set to move in at the old Stimson mill site in Bonner could bring as many as 60 jobs to the area by early 2013.
The Aluminum Company of Maine Inc. has signed a lease to establish a 70,000-square-foot manufacturing facility inside the plywood building on the site.
“We will start Monday doing all of the buildout for the renovations. It’s just full speed ahead, they want to get in there as quickly as they can,” said Mike Boehme, Bonner Property Development LLC co-owner.
The intent is to make the location ALCOM’s West Coast distribution site. The company is making a significant investment in its expansion here, said Boehme, who bought the old Stimson site with partner Steve Nelson last December.
ALCOM plans to start production here in early 2013. The company already is advertising to hire, Missoula Economic Partnership President James Grunke said. Grunke announced the deal Wednesday during a meeting with the Missoula City Council.
Founded in 2006, ALCOM is headquartered in Waterville, Maine, and employs roughly 200 people at its facility in Winslow, Maine, according to an MEP news release.
ALCOM founded Mission Trailers but also produces trailers under the High Country, E-Z Hauler and Sno-Pro brands, the release said.
According to the Mission Trailer website, the company builds more than 70 models of open and enclosed aluminum trailers “for a wide variety of uses. Our combination of price and quality has fueled our tremendous growth.”
ALCOM’s revenues increased during the recession and topped $25 million in 2011, the release said.
The company plans to rapidly expand its facility in Bonner. Several ALCOM representatives will move to Missoula, and the company anticipates expanding to 200 employees within the first two years, the release said.
Initially, ALCOM is looking for entry-level manufacturing workers. Wages and benefits will be around $30,000 a year, and could include daily production bonuses, the MEP release said.
ALCOM needed a West Coast location because it has a large number of customers in the western U.S. and western Canada, Grunke said.
One growing customer base is oil field workers.
“They’re finding a lot of their customers are people working up in the oil industry in Canada; they’re making mobile ‘man caves,’ your snowmobile, your wet bar, your TV all in one – but that’s just one example,” Grunke said.
The Missoula site was ideal because it provided a ready-made facility, freeway access and rail access if that’s necessary down the road, Boehme said.
Beyond that, “they just felt there was a real synergy between the value system of the workers in Maine with the workers in Montana,” Boehme said.
Grunke agreed that there were many factors that made Missoula a good fit.
“I have always felt Montana and Missoula have made good sense for light manufacturing, which this would include,” he said. “I think they’re coming from a part of the world that’s similar; they’re from rural Maine, we’re rural Montana. There are maybe some cultural similarities – that was very important to them. We want this to be the first of many similar announcements in this community.”
ALCOM was founded by Trapper Clark and Tom Sturtevant.
Clark said in the news release that the “professional assistance” of MEP and the “can-do attitudes” of local officials made the expansion an easy decision.
“We are excited to begin our next stage of growth in Big Sky Country,” Clark said.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.