‘Extreme' Company Coming To East Texas
By BETTY WATERS
ATHENS -- A California manufacturer of climbing walls, zip lines, jumper systems and adventure products will relocate to Athens, creating 33 jobs over the next three years, the company and Athens Economic Development Corporation announced.
Discussions about the possibility of Extreme Engineering coming to Athens have been under way for a year. Confronted by burdensome regulations in California, the company had already determined it wanted to be in Texas when the negotiations began.
The discussions culminated with approval of agreements between the company and Athens Economic Development Corporation.
The negotiations started after Extreme Engineering contacted the economic development corporation as part of a site search. Local officials showed the company an available plant and talks continued twice weekly until the deal was finalized.
"We're very excited that Extreme Engineering has chosen Athens to locate a manufacturing plant; we believe their company is a very strong, very successful company and we think we're a good match for them," said Brian J. Malone, president/CEO for Athens Economic Development Corporation.
Jeff Wilson, president/CEO for Extreme Engineering, issued a prepared statement: "By strategically placing our manufacturing plant in the middle of the U.S., Extreme Engineering can cost effectively produce product, streamline shipments anywhere in the country and all over the world, maintain manufacturing in America and now we are part of the great state of Texas."
Johan Engelbrecht, director of strategic planning with Extreme Engineering, worked closely with Malone and Bob Gould, board chairman for the economic development corporation.
Extreme Engineering's parent company, Thrillworks Inc., may retain some operations in Newcastle, Calif., Malone said, but will move manufacturing, design and sales to Athens.
It is a multifaceted manufacturing process, Malone said. For example, the company builds portable climbing walls and buyers need some way to move them, so the company also manufactures trailers.
Malone anticipates operations will start in Athens in late summer.
Different types of mostly skilled jobs will be created in fabrication, welding, fiberglass, and painting, he said.
"It makes sense for them to be in Texas in terms of being able to transport their finished goods to market in the U.S. and having access to ports that will ship their products overseas," Malone said.
"We just feel pleased that they feel confident Athens has everything they need in terms of workforce and location," Malone added. "I think they will make a positive contribution to Athens and East Texas in general."
Extreme Engineering will set up operations in an existing plant that has been vacant about three years on Flat Creek Road in an industrial section of Athens.
The economic development corporation is buying three buildings and 15 acres of land from D. Johnson for $525,000. The corporation will sell part of that acquisition to Extreme Engineering under an agreement with the company while retaining one building and about nine acres for future development, Malone said.
Extreme Engineering will occupy a 15,000 square foot manufacturing plant and a 4,000 square foot office building and use six acres of land, paying the corporation $480,000 for the package on a 10-year note. "We are fortunate to have a (facility) that meets their needs," Malone said.
The company needed a structure capable of having small cranes inside the building and the available plant had the required size and ceiling height.
"Their needs and the building's needs met real well," Malone said.
If Extreme Engineering meets employment and payroll goals, the company will receive rebates toward purchase of the building that will be calculated on an annual basis, Malone said.
Besides performance based incentives, Extreme Engineering will receive a $250,000 loan over five years from the economic development corporation to fund moving transition into the local plant. The corporation will also provide a $50,000 training grant that Extreme Engineering can utilize for in-house training of its new Athens employees or through Trinity Valley Community College.
Extreme Engineering was the original creator of mobile rock climbing walls and auto-belay systems.
Its customers include Disney, ESPN, Six Flags, Universal Studios, the U.S. military, fitness centers, family entertainment centers, parks, universities and entrepreneurs.