New plant to open for business Monday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
An entire manufacturing plant traveled through Salisbury on Saturday afternoon ó or at least most of it.
Power Curbers is moving its entire operation from Bringle Ferry Road across town to a new facility on Bendix Drive. The move started after closing time Friday and doors at the new site will open first thing Monday.
The company, which manufactures equipment designed to install concrete curb and guttering on streets and sidewalks, has been at the Bringle Ferry Road building for 42 years.
President and CEO Dyke Messinger said the company’s first facility went up in 1965 and then an addition was put on in 1988.
“Those two buildings suited us well for a long time. But just the change in our manufacturing strategy and the need for a training center and the need to bring everything under one roof drove us to look for another location,” he said.
“It’s a major investment; it’s going to end up being close to $8 million. It’s really an investment not only in our company but in American manufacturing as well. We’re proud to have a manufacturing business in the United States and we’re proud to employ folks from Rowan County,” Messinger said.
Workers were moving machinery out of the Bringle Ferry Road building around 1 p.m. Saturday and washing it to get it ready for transportation.
According to Walter Pence, who is in charge of the mold department, the move that took 19 months of planning was going really smoothly.
“Everything is going really well,” he said.
Over at the new building on Bendix Drive employees were helping move equipment and trying to get everything in place for Monday.
Craig Neuhardt, vice president of operations, said the new building actually has less square footage than the company’s old facility. But workers will be able to improve productivity even with less space because of better design.
Power Curbers has practiced lean manufacturing for some time, but “we were at a point where we needed to consolidate everything,” Mess-inger said.
Neuhardt said the company started planning the move and debated whether to shut down operations or try to move everything in stages.
“We’ve been blessed with a really good sales year so we decided to do it in stages,” he said.
That way the company will only lose about three to four days total.
The new facility is designed to cut out waste in the process by eliminating excess employee movement among other things. Each part has a place and a color-coded system for quick access.
“Our goals are initially by Sept. 1 to go from building a complete machine every two days to building a complete machine every day and a half with no additional labor,” Neuhardt said.
“My assumption is that we’d be able to increase that considerably after we’ve had some time in the facility,” he said.
Power Curbers is trying to increase efficiency but that doesn’t mean cutting jobs.
Neuhardt said no jobs will be lost in the move and a handful could be added if sales continue to increase.
The company will sell about 145 curb machines this year.
Neuhardt said that’s a good number. When he started at the company in 1993, they were selling about 60 a year.
“Our whole goal with lean manufacturing is to do exactly what the customer wants, when he wants it and at a price he considers reasonable,” he said.
Messinger said the new facility also includes an 8,000-square-foot training center that’s already been a hit with customers.
He said the company used the Holiday Inn before to train customers how to use the machines, but the new center will make things much easier.
“We’re bringing in hundreds of people a year for training. We’ve got a little cafeteria and three separate training rooms,” he said.
Messinger said the company already used the center this year and customers enjoyed its addition.
The office at the new facility will also be redesigned for more efficiency.
Instead of separate offices, employees will all sit together in cubicles. The concept is designed to increase employee communication.
Messinger joked about the new office setting: “It’s going to be a new experience for all of us. Hopefully, we won’t kill each other. We all had our little cubbyholes that we could go into before.”
Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or