Canadian pipe maker to locate in Thomasville
The hard work of local officials and economic developers and their sincerity and honesty in promoting their community was a deciding factor in a Canadian pipe fabricating company deciding to build a $18 million plant in Thomasville, the company's representatives and Gov. Bob Riley told a crowd at the Thomasville Civic Center Thursday afternoon.
Lakeside Steel Inc. will start work immediately on the plant in the Thomasville Industrial Park. One-hundred and twenty jobs will be created as well as 60 to 80 indirect jobs, President and CEO R. A. "Ron" Bedard said.
Gov. Bob Riley said local promoters impressed Lakeside's management with their can-do philosophy and their sincerity.
Thomasville competed with 40 to 50 communities across North America for the plant and finally with a site in Mobile County. Even then, Mayor Sheldon Day told Lakeside if it didn't locate in Thomasville he would work for them to locate in Alabama.
"There's something special about this area," Riley said, "something about your leadership, your mayor, commissioners, city council...[they are] a testament to what you are doing.
Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office was also complimentary of local efforts, calling them a "model for economic development in small town Alabama."
The Thomasville plant will produce about 200,000 tons annually and will be the newest large diameter pipe mill in America, Bedard said. Production is expected by next year.
It will operate as Lakeside Steel Alabama. The plant will manufacture tubing and pipe up to 10 3/4 inches in diameter for use in the natural gas and oil industry.
"We are bullish on oil," he said, explaining that more drilling equates to more pipe sales and more revenues for Lakeside.
The plant will utilize steel produced at the new ThyssenKrupp plant at Calvert as well as at NuCor Steel in Tuscaloosa and at Severstal in Columbus, Miss. The steel will be brought into Thomasville by rail and finished pipe will be shipped out the same way as well as by ship through the Port of Mobile.
Lakeside's Thomasville plant will be the first manufacturing spin-off industry from the TK plant in Alabama.
The pipe will be formed from flat steel and in some instances will be threaded. Some may be lined, he said.
The Canadian told the crowd that his company had been made welcome in Thomasville and Clarke County. "We are 1,500 miles away but we feel at home," he said.
Lakeside's Chairman Vic Albonini echoed those remarks. "We want to be close to the community...we want to be a good, honest and transparent employer."
Louis Russo, the president of Conestoga Supply, a customer of Lakeside said the Lakeside officials weren't just trying to make the locals feel good. They told him the same thing in private meetings, he said.
Bedard said he was so sold on the area that he would be promoting the Thomasville Industrial Park to others at an upcoming trade show in Chicago.
Mayor Day said a lot of people-from local officials to the state's congressional delegation, Norfolk Southern Railroad, Alabama Power and more-played a role in landing the new industry.
"Economic development doesn't just happen," he said. "We can't be a Tupelo [Miss.], we can't be Mobile. We are who we are and there ain't nothing wrong with that. We put our heart and our soul into what we do."