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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Twelve weeks after the fire that destroyed a significant portion of Westermeyer Industries south of Bluffs, work is underway to rebuild and expand the manufacturing facility.
A significant portion of the foundation work of the facility’s new building, Westermeyer Owner Gary Westermeyer said, has been completed.
“About 75 percent of the foundation work is complete,” Westermeyer said. “We hope the weather will moderate and allow for the slab to be poured by early December. Progress is moving right along.”
Westermeyer indicated he felt fortunate that work on the new building has come as far as it has in such a short time.
“A lot of contractors were telling us it would be six months out,” Westermeyer said. “It’s a blessing we’ve already got concrete in the ground.”
The new construction is being done by Ashland’s Copper Coin Construction.
While the fire destroyed approximately 70,000 square feet of manufacturing space, Westermeyer said that the company has adapted and is currently running at approximately three quarters of its capacity.
“Seventy-five percent of our output is back,” Westermeyer said.
In addition, Westermeyer said that the manufacturing facility is at full staff, even following the fire.
“We’ve had a full crew at work at least for the last six or seven weeks,” Westermeyer said. “And it’s not just full staff – we’re working overtime.”
Westermeyer said that demand is outpacing the company’s output. As a result, Westermeyer is hiring additional workers.
“We’ve hired four new people in the past week,” Westermeyer said. “We’re looking for more welders, general laborers and machinists in some cases.”
The building lost, Westermeyer said, was approximately 71,000 square feet. It will be replaced by a 97,000 square foot structure, increasing Westermeyer’s manufacturing capacity. Westermeyer said that the new construction accompanies several additional moves to enhance the company’s capabilities.
“The new building is about 25,000 square feet bigger,” Westermeyer said. “We have several new pieces of equipment on order. We’re putting in a lot of automation to reduce costs and grow the business bigger.”