Archive for January, 2008

Moving Ahead

January 28, 2008

**Originally posted in the Waterloo Courier**

CEDAR FALLS — Just 13 months after being bought by new owners at a bankruptcy auction, business is up at Wayne Engineering and plans for expansion are on track.

Production had doubled within about three months of the company changing hands. Work has started on a 29,000-square-foot expansion at the Cedar Falls site that will enable the company to build two new lines of garbage trucks, said Frank Martin, an industrial engineer and director of human resources. The steel additions are up and the expansion should be finished around the end of April.

Plans to open a manufacturing facility in Traer for a separate company — Wayne Sweeper, owned by Wayne Industrial Holdings, LLC, which also owns Wayne Engineering — have been delayed but not derailed.

Cedar Falls expansion

For years, Wayne Engineering has been known for its signature automatic side-loading garbage truck, known as the Curbtender. Although still the company’s main product, it is not the only one.

Shortly after acquiring Wayne Engineering, Wayne Industrial Holdings added front-loader and rear-loader garbage trucks to the company’s product line.

Wayne Engineering added the new garbage trucks to get into what Martin said was a larger market.

“There is a large market for those two units, so we can expect to make and sell a lot of those,” Martin said. “That will be on top of our continued expansion of the automated side-loader.”

To accommodate the production, Wayne Engineering is building the expansion — two expansions, actually.

An expansion on the north side of the building will be used for steel storage, Martin said. An expansion on the east side will handle the Curbtender production, while the existing building handles production of the new product lines.

Martin said earlier the expansion is expected to create 39 jobs by 2010, 25 of which have been added since Wayne Industrial Holdings took over.

“We have so many projects going on, we need the room,” Martin said. “We have a very large backlog (of orders) by now. We have pretty much guaranteed production for the whole year.”

Wayne Sweeper

In Traer, Wayne Industrial Holdings had hoped to buy the Traer Manufacturing building once that company goes out of business, but the two sides could not come to terms, Martin said. Instead, Wayne Industrial Holdings is in talks with the city to buy land in the industrial park and erect a new building there.

Wayne Sweeper, as the name suggests, would manufacture street sweepers. Martin said Wayne Industrial Holdings decided to enter the street sweeper market because they saw room for a new product and because of the company’s experience in chassis for street vehicles.

Wayne is trying to buy Tennant Co., which manufactures floor sweepers and had its own foray into street sweepers which failed largely due to its lack of experience in street vehicles’ chassis, Martin said.

Once production starts, Wayne Sweepers will build mechanical sweepers which use brushes to clean the road surface, vacuum sweepers and other styles of sweepers that Martin said he’s not prepared to discuss. Production could begin in February, he said.

While Wayne awaits a manufacturing site in Traer, it is prepared to operate out of a much smaller facility in Evansdale, Martin said.

Wayne is renting that facility and doing basic engineering work out of it, Martin said. Nobody works there yet, and Martin didn’t know how many would be employed there once production starts. The Evansdale site does have a limited production capacity.

Kent Holst, president of Traer Development Corp., said Wayne Sweeper has been in talks with his group to buy land in industrial park since November.

“It’s in the very initial stages, I guess would be the best way to describe it,” Holst said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. But there’s no major problems that surfaced or anything.”

“We’re investigating TIF (tax increment financing) possibilities. Just all of the things that you go through in a situation like this.”

Holst estimated production in Traer could start in August, assuming Wayne buys the land in February and there are no unforeseen delays.

Martin said Wayne won’t open a Traer facility until it resolves engineering problems with the new sweepers.

“We want this to happen as quickly as possible,” Martin said. “We still haven’t lost hope of doing that yet this summer, but it depends on the progress of those initial sweeper products.”

Waterloo Courier Wayne Engineering