Apr 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm
SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. (KNSI) - A central Minnesota company that has been providing critical welding and manufacturing services with a national impact has changed ownership - and they have plans to move and expand their workforce by 40% in the next year.
After a six month-long planning process, W.F. Scarince, Inc. was officially purchased by a group of investors on April 1st.
The announcement was made on Tuesday during a news conference at the former KOMO Machine building at 11 Industrial Boulevard in Sauk Rapids.
The building is also the new, larger home of the company, renamed WFSI, Inc.
During his speech, former owner and now partner Bill Scarince shared insights from his long career as a welding engineer, which began with a move from the east coast.
Upon being laid off from his job, Scarince explained how he used money saved to develop his own general welding shop. He moved operations to 315 Industrial Boulevard three years later.
The company now employs 47 people, providing welding and fabrication services related to military, oil and gas, energy and other niche sectors.
One of their specialities includes safety valves for oil and natural gas drilling - a process so regulated and specialized, only a handful of companies around the United States are certified to create them.
Scarince says he's had multiple opportunities to sell the company in years past, but wanted to make sure he was handing the business off to someone local who would continue to grow it in support of central Minnesota's economy.
Scarince describes new owner-partners Bob and Fred Sexton, along with appointed president Leon Gehrke and financial professional Allan Beyer as ideal investors with a "matching [business] culture" and much combined experience owning and operating manufacturing companies in central Minnesota.
Bob Sexton, former co-owner of Polar Tank Trailer and precision machine tool manufacturer KOMO Machine, tells KNSI News the services WFSI will continue to provide are highly specialized and crucial with regard to the future of U.S. industry.
"The safety valving we do for the offshore drilling companies is very critical - as we saw from the gulf explosion several years ago," Sexton says. "That's even become more critical now. Right now, Scarince is one of the few companies approved to do this kind of work, with an inspector on-hand at all times."
Sexton says the need for the company's welding services is in high demand, and adding employees in the next year is essential.
"This business takes a lot of high quality work and skilled professionals - the company has a 5 year back-log of work to do on these projects for current clients, and we aim to put a lot out in the near future."
Sexton adds, the company plans to expand into the creation of high-pressure vessel tanks for transport and storage of liquid natural gas.
"You can't find a hotter industry in north America right now," Sexton says. "We have an over-abundance of liquid natural gas at our disposal. You see burning off at refineries, because they don't have a source to store or transport it. This kind of work can lead to our becoming completely energy efficient down the road."
WFSI aims to hire around 20 new employees in the next year, with hopes to partner with organizations and schools like St. Cloud Technical and Community College in the hiring process. They're actively seeking experienced welders for openings immediately.
The Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation, along with the city of Sauk Rapids, assisted with the purchase.