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Posts published in “Day: August 25, 2012”

Mendiola: Now at the ordnance plant

Mark Mendiola
Eastern Idaho

The opening of an ATCO Structures & Logistics modular housing plant inside the Gateway West Industrial Center last April on Pocatello’s north end has given the former Naval Ordnance Plant a lift and provided a needed positive boost for a community hit by layoffs at ON Semiconductor and Hoku’s polysilicon plant.

About 95 electricians, carpenters, plumbers and other crafts already have manufactured modular units for shipping offsite as ATCO, a Canadian-based company, gets established in the Gate City. When its plant hits peak capacity, it will be able to manufacture two to three units a day.

ATCO has delayed hiring another 60 workers offered jobs until back-ordered material and safety equipment arrives, including tie-off systems to protect them from falling from heights. That may take about two months, but meanwhile production will continue and not be halted.

Bill Haliburton, vice president of manufacturing in North America, expects 200 ultimately will be hired as operations ramp up inside its 200,000-square-foot Building 36, where massive cranes inside the cavernous structure can lift heavy tonnage.

“We are really pleased with the reception we have had in Pocatello,” he says, adding the location has met ATCO’s needs. “Our ultimate goal is an incident-free work place. Safety is the number one priority at all our locations.”

Virtually all of its Pocatello employees are locals as ATCO strives to procure its services and supplies from area vendors, such as SME Steel. ATCO’s modular units have been targeted for Canadian provinces, North Dakota, Wyoming and other states where projects demand housing for personnel, especially oil, gas and tar sand patches.

Based at Calgary, Alberta, ATCO was founded in 1947 when S.D. Southern and his son Ronald D. Southern bought 15 utility trailers for hire in the Calgary area as Alberta Trailer Hire. Ronald Southern announced last May his intention to step down as ATCO’s board chairman in 2013.

Nancy C. Southern, his daughter and ATCO’s president, chief executive officer and deputy chair, announced ATCO would sponsor five Idaho State University scholarships when she visited the Pocatello modular housing plant for a ribbon cutting about four months ago.

The $13 billion ATCO Group employs 8,800 on five continents and boasted $330 million in earnings last year. It has ownership interest in nine natural gas gathering and processing facilities and 18 power generation facilities globally. (more…)