Tuesday, December 23, 2014
   
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Dayton Phoenix up to 20 workers, space for more

Business thrives during economic downturn.

The spacious shop area at Dayton Phoenix Group hums with activity at a time when many businesses and industries struggle to survive.

A little more than a year after the Gothenburg facility landed a contract with Union Pacific Railroad, 20 employees work the floor.

“And we’re negotiating continually to try to add business to this shop,” said manager Mike Griffith.”We’ve got the space.”

The Gothenburg facility, which is part of Dayton Phoenix Group, rebuilds radiator cooling fans, dynamic braking grid fans and blower assemblies for the railroad industry.

In September of 2010, three employees were employed when the company sealed a deal with Union Pacific after losing a contract with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad shortly after the facility opened in 2009.

Griffith said they plan to add up to six more employees after the first of the year when the rewind business comes to the local plant.

Employees at company headquarters in Dayton, OH, now rewind electric motors used in railroad equipment.

“But we’ll start that up here because we’re next to the largest railroad yard (Bailey Yard in North Platte) in the world,” he said. “It’s a lot less expensive to ship it here.”

In August, the facility also started replacing bearings on radiator cooling fans under a different railroad contract.

“We started out doing four a day which has increased to 10 a day,” Griffith said. “It keeps us hopping.”

He added that an average of five semi-tractor trailer trucks, loaded with equipment, back up to and leave the loading dock each day.

During the first six months of 2011, Griffith said 10-hour working days were not uncommon.

Of the 20 employees at the plant, all are from Gothenburg or the surrounding area.

Griffith said 10 were employees of Tenneco Automotive in Cozad, which will close its doors next year.

Equipment needing repair is shipped to Gothenburg from rail yards in North Platte; Little Rock and Roseville, AK; Sacramento, CA; Houston, TX; Kansas City and St. Louis, MO; and Chicago, IL.

The local plant also has a new contract with Electro-Motive Diesel which services Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad. Equipment is shipped to and from Alliance.

Because repaired equipment costs less than buying new, Griffith said Dayton Phoenix began picking up business when railroads went through a downswing several years ago.

“Service shops have been booming,” he said, adding that the company also negotiates preventative maintenance agreements to maintain railroad equipment. “That saves them money.”

Based on what he’s experienced during 26 years of working at Tenneco, combined with Dayton Phoenix work, Griffith said he’s convinced Dawson County has the best workforce in the world.

Dayton Phoenix Group Inc. opened a repair shop within their original equipment manufacturing facility four years ago in Dayton, OH, as a $10-million-a-year industry when railroads began accumulating expensive motors that needed repairs.

Today, company officials said the company has grown into a $100-million-a-year industry world wide.

Del Abnet, who was involved in the early development of the Gothenburg facility, said company officials decided to add a location in Gothenburg because much of the equipment repaired is shipped from the North Platte, rail yard.

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