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Wayne Engineering Announces Intent to Build Street Sweeper

August 10, 2007; posted at Ws.com October 26, 2007

Wayne Engineering Logo TRAER, Iowa -- Though not a perfect substitute initially, residents and city officials are optimistic a manufacturer coming to town will eventually make up for other jobs leaving the area.

Wayne Industrial Holdings on Thursday announced plans to move its new division, Wayne Sweeper, to Traer. The company will make street sweepers.

The news comes about two months after Traer Manufacturing -- the city's largest employer -- revealed its goal to shut down by July 2008. The closure will cost about 150 people their jobs.

Mayor Russell Drinovsky appreciated the timing. "We are all elated that it happened so soon," Drinovsky said. "We have many citizens in Traer who probably would have been forced to move, but now they will be able to stay here and continue working."

Wayne Sweeper tried to buy Traer Manufacturing's production facility but negotiations broke down. Instead, Wayne Sweeper intends to construct its own plant. The building will be constructed in three parts. Once completed, the space will cover up to 100,000 square feet, said Kevin Watje, CEO of Wayne Industrial Holdings. Watje did not provide a date when production will begin but said the company hoped to have a prototype of its sweeper available by November.

Initially Wayne Sweeper will have 20 to 30 assembly jobs, though manufacturing of the sweeper will take place elsewhere. Watje said the company's ultimate goal, however, is to reach 150 employees -- the same number of workers currently employed at Traer Manufacturing. He added wages will mirror those offered by that company as well. Drinovsky explained the timeline expressed by Watje.

"I think he's thinking about one or two years to get up to 150 people," Drinovsky said.

Brad Spires, chief financial officer for Wayne Industrial Holdings, said Traer is an ideal location for his corporation's new division because a ready supply of labor will be available once Traer Manufacturing closes.

"The real value for us is not in the building. It is in the work force," Spires said. "There are a hundred people who are familiar with that type of work, and who know how to assemble and work in the factory. It's just a good solid work force." Spires added the company's strategic plan for the next few years includes a division in sewer basin pumping machinery. Traer could be the ideal community for that operation as well, he said.

Wayne Sweeper has not been promised any tangible incentives from the city of Traer, Watje said, "other than the promise to work with us." Drinovsky noted the new plant will deflect what could have been a catastrophic blow to the town's economy.

Wayne Industrial Holdings is a subsidiary of T5 Equity Partners, which owns the Mall of America in Minneapolis and Edmonton Mall in Canada. The company purchased Wayne Engineering in Cedar Falls in December.

SOURCE: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

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