Lubbock's old Eagle Picher plant closed back in July when Noble Construction Equipment stopped operations there. Now, new businesses are moving in and setting up shop. What it means for East Lubbock is the potential for hundreds of new jobs. Vertical Turbine Specialists (VTS) out of Littlfield will start moving their company to the location next month. It's a move that will leave a void in Littlefied's economy. Melvin Hall, Littlefield Economic Development Coordinator says, "All those employees are no longer buying gas at Jennings Conoco, buying tires at Bowman's and no longer eating at the restaurants and things like that, so it's a ripple effect."
Considering VTS is Littlefield's fourth largest employer, losing the company will be a tough blow to take, but VTS was growing, it needed to expand, and Littlfield just couldn't sustain that growth. VTS President, Doug Allen explains, "The labor pool in our present location is dwindling somewhat and there's been a high demand. We've been about six people short for the last one and a half to two years and looking for qualified people."
Allen found a way to ease his growing pains here in Lubbock. He says the former Eagle Picher plant will allow his business to immediately increase productivity by 25%. 62 of his 65 employees will move with the business and they'll hire about 26 more right off the bat. Allen says, "This has always been home to the vertical pump industry there are a lot of machinists and welders available, plus we have Byron Martin Technology Center who we're working with to train employees in the future so we're quite excited with the opportunity we have here."
That excitement is sweet, but bitter sweet. Doug will miss working in Littlefield, the town his business started in 50 years ago. Hall says, "They looked at things and this is what they needed to do and we suffer for that, but on the positive side, we're going to continue. We won't give up. That's not in our vocabulary."
Search KCBD.com Jobs for available openings in and around the Lubbock area!
Allen and his company were initially looking beyond the South Plains and even beyond Texas for new locations. That was the case for some of the other companies re-locating to East Lubbock who have now chosen to stay in this region. We know Lubbock's Module Truck Systems (MTS) and Peerless Pump out of Plainview are moving to the facility as well, and more are on the way. At least a couple more haven't been confirmed just yet. Allen hopes the facility will eventually be home to a wide variety of businesses and we should mention, Littlefield has a couple of exciting opportunities on the table as well.