Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ammo Maker Expands, But Not To Granite Dells

Ammo Maker Expands, But Not To Granite Dells

HPR founder says existing plant will remain in Payson

         

The company, which manufactures HPR Ammunition, will actually expand operations in Payson, increasing output from 25 million rounds to 100 million rounds. That will boost the number of employees from about 45 at present to about 60.
However, the company has dropped plans to build the expansion of its ammunition manufacturing in Payson and pulled out of a plan to buy 100 acres in Granite Dells, which drew opposition from some local residents seeking to protect the popular hiking area.
“But we’re not leaving Payson. We’re going to use Payson for the next two years for research and development for the expansion. We have no plans at all in the near future or the long future of closing Payson. Our employees know that — we’re spending money on expansion right now. We’ll be hiring people and growing the capacity in Payson — it’ll be nothing but good things.”
Antich said he’s convinced that the company could have eventually won over the critics of the plan to expand operations in the Granite Dells property — but in the end decided the company needed more room than the site would have provided.
The Tennessee site totals some 235 acres, which will accommodate a 300,000-square-foot facility. If the company had built the expansion in Payson, it would have provided more jobs than the school district and the Town of Payson combined — making it the single biggest employer in the region.
“We started in Payson and we’ll always be in Payson,” said Antich. “The town management has been wonderful with us — but Fox Farm just didn’t work. We could have mitigated the public opposition, but it just didn’t fit. We only had about 20 acres of usable space, but in reality we’d have had to tear mountains down.”
The company backed away from purchasing the site, which in the meantime the Town of Payson annexed. Previously, the property lay within Star Valley, although it was surrounded by Forest Service land.
Antich said the company will start to automate some of its operations in Payson, with the use of robots to handle some phases of the manufacture. Experimentation with production in Payson will then help guide the construction of the facility in Tennessee, which will take two or three years to build.
Newspapers in Tennessee trumpeted the opening of the ammunition manufacturing plant in Alcoa, just south of Knoxville and not far from the Oak Ridge Laboratories.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, Alcoa Electric Department, the Economic Development Commission and other groups partnered with Advanced Munitions International (AMI), the parent company of HPR. Local officials worked in cooperation to recruit the major source of relatively high-end jobs, aided by the presence of Oak Ridge Laboratories.
An article in the Chattanooga Times quoted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as saying, “I want to thank AMI for their substantial investment in Tennessee and for the more than 600 jobs they will create in Blount County. This is an industry leader creating jobs that require a highly skilled workforce as we continue toward our goal of becoming No. 1 location in the southeast for high-quality jobs.”
The story noted that AMI specializes in producing ammunition for the military and the Alcoa plant will hire mostly chemists and engineers with backgrounds in metallurgy, engineering, physics and energetics technology.
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