American Fuel Cell and Coated Fabrics Company’s plans to open a second plant reflect its need to meet new orders, and not to relocate the Magnolia Amfuel plant, the company’s president said Sunday.
Amfuel will expand operations to Wichita Falls, TX, subject to the expected approval by its City Council of an economic development incentive package.
Mike Viscosi of Magnolia, Amfuel president and CEO, said, “Amfuel has completed its first 45 days under new ownership and the results, to date, have been very positive. As we turn around the company and return it to profitability, an immediate initiative is to expand production to address pent up customer demand. Customers’ response to the new ownership team has been very positive with one customer having placed an additional order for up to 8,000 fuel cells.”
The company reported further that it has expanded its Magnolia plant employment by 60 persons during the past 90 days and expects to expand its workforce further as the planned Wichita Falls facility becomes operational.
“With the expected increased business, we are excited about the opportunity to expand our operations across the board and the incentives offered by the Wichita Falls community make this a very positive step in our turnaround process. We anticipate having our final approvals and a signed lease for a new plant in Wichita Falls shortly,” Viscosi said.
Wichita Falls officials said last week that Amfuel was considering an expansion plan that would create 280 new jobs in the North Texas city.
The Wichita Falls Economic Development Corporation, also known as the 4a Board, has approved a $2 million incentive package to lure the company to Wichita Falls. The incentive package must now be approved by the Wichita Falls City Council.
The Wichita Falls proposal includes an $800,000 no-interest, forgivable loan, up to $844,740 in Cash for Jobs, and $336,000 in training funds if a Skills Development Training Grant cannot be secured from the State of Texas.
Kevin M. Pearson, senior vice president for the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, “Amfuel could bring close to 300 primary jobs to Wichita Falls. We have been working with the company since 2013, and have met with company executives at their facility in Magnolia. Based on what we have seen, this expansion would be a good fit for Wichita Falls.”
Amfuel is considering several other communities for this expansion project. The 4a incentives are designed to position Wichita Falls as the premiere location for this new venture.
Two potential locations in Wichita Falls are currently being considered by the company, but a final decision has not yet been made.
An investment group led by Britt Gourley of Seattle, Washington, acquired the Magnolia facility in June from Zodiac Elastomer, a division of France’s Zodiac Aerospace. The French company said earlier this year that it planned to close the Magnolia facility by year’s end due to a lack of profitability.
Amfuel produces a variety of fuel cells for the aerospace industry, along with rubberized coated fabrics and large bladders for the storage of liquids. Its website says the Magnolia plant has about 300 employees with an annual payroll of about $6 million. The Amfuel Plant I facility is located in a 310,000-square-foot building off North Vine Street. It also operates a feeder plant off South Washington Street that produces cardboard and plaster forms used in the fuel cell production process.