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Dal-Tile's 270-Employee Plant Will Be
By JACK LYNE Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
New Corporate Okie from Muskogee
MUSKOGEE, OKLA. -- Muskogee (www.muskogeedevelopment.org), that burgh of some 40,000 residents that was immortalized in song by Merle Haggard's No. 1 U.S. hit in 1969, has landed a project with a potent per-capita punch. Dal-Tile International (www.daltile.com), the largest U.S. manufacturer and distributor of ceramic tile, has picked the Oklahoma city on the Arkansas River as the site of its new 270-employee, US$45 million manufacturing facility. And over the longer term, Dal-Tile is projecting that Muskogee employment could expand to 430 workers.
Founded in 1947, Dallas-based Dal-Tile employs 7,700 and has nine existing manufacturing facilities in the United States and Canada. Its 10th plant will be built on a 150-acre (60-hectare) tract inside the Port of Muskogee-John T. Griffin Industrial Park, located along State Highway 165 and near U.S. Highway 64.
The Port of Muskogee (pictured) played a critical role in landing Dal-Tile in the Oklahoma City.
Dal-Tile executives sounded proud to be freshly minted corporate Okies from Muskogee.
"We are very pleased to have made the decision to locate our newest plant in Muskogee," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jacques Sardas said at the project's announcement at the Muskogee Civic Center.
"We have been impressed with the people of Oklahoma and the positive reception we have received during the site selection process," Sardas continued. "We are looking forward to establishing the new plant in this location to support our future growth requirements for floor tile."
Project Marks Payoff for
The decision comes after what company officials described as "an extensive six-month search."
Port of Muskogee's Strategy
Michel Vermette, director of corporate planning and analysis, said Dal-Tile picked the site "because it's a good, centrally positioned location for our distribution." The floor-tile manufacturing plant, she explained, will particularly benefit from Muskogee's access to land, rail and water transportation.
The site's multimodal magnetism for Dal-Tile marks the fruition of the strategy designed by the Port of Muskogee (www.muskogeeport.com). In 1993, the port acquired a four-mile (6.43-km.) corridor south of Muskogee, including a rail spur that now connects with the Union Pacific Railroad (www.uprr.com). The long-term strategy in acquiring the land was to create a new business park for large industrial projects.
The Dal-Tile plant marks the strategy's payoff. The floor-tile manufacturing operation will be the first occupant of the Port of Muskogee-John T. Griffin Industrial Park. Port Director Scott Robinson projected that the Port of Muskogee will handle "all or almost all of Dal-Tile's inbound transportation requirements."
'Most Advanced Equipment Available'
The plant's needs may get bigger, company officials suggested.
"We'll initially invest $45 million in the facility, and that could grow to $58 million over several years," said Dal-Tile Vice President of Operations Clay Orme.
Company officials promised a state-of-the-art facility that will be one of the largest and most cost-effective in the United States.
"This plant will have the most advanced equipment available," Orme said. "When you combine that with the best trained people, you have a facility destined for success. Muskogee and the state of Oklahoma can partner with us to make that vision a reality."
Dal-Tile officials also praised Muskogee area labor quality. Despite its modest size, the city is recognized by Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce (www.odoc.state.ok.us) as the state's third-largest manufacturing community. Some 194,000 persons reside within a 30-mile (48.2-km.) radius of Muskogee, and the area has an availability of skilled workers, officials say. Georgia-Pacific, with 1,580 employees, is the Muskogee area's biggest employer.
Dal-Tile, the area's newest major employer, will begin production at its new plant in the third quarter of 2002, company officials projected.
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