Hernando officials are happy to see new jobs flowing from the specialty pipes undergoing finishing at a recently added production facility in the city, and they hope more jobs are on the way.
Schulz Xtruded Products, a German-based manufacturer of pipes used in the oil and gas industries, is cranking up operations at a plant opened in existing warehouse space to add a new product line to the company's Tunica operation.
The company is investing more than $50 million in the operation and has created 50 jobs so far. A job fair planned for Tuesday at Landers Center in Southaven is expected to add more workers.
"This is a really big deal," Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson said after touring the facility Monday morning. "The product they're making here is something that only three or four (companies) in the world are doing, and we're very proud it's happening in Hernando. The stuff they're doing here is world-class."
Schulz has been a bright spot for the Tunica economy as the area struggles to overcome weak casino revenues in recent years. The German pipe manufacturer provided a boost and some economic diversification when it chose Tunica six years ago for a 450,000-square-foot pipe manufacturing facility. The area beat out international competitors including Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro and Abu Dhabi to land the operation.
Now, Hernando is hoping to benefit with the new ancillary line. The Hernando facility will finish pipes transported by truck from Tunica, a short drive via Interstate 69, to meet an increasing demand for corrosion-resistant OCTG pipes. The investment in the Hernando operation includes establishing one of the biggest pilgermills in the world. Pipe shells extruded in Tunica are sent to Hernando for cold forming.
In addition to pipes for the oil and gas industries, Schulz uses proprietary processes to extrude titanium pipes for the aerospace industry. The company's processes creates metalurgically bonded, seamless pipe.
"They're making alloys and seamless links that others can't produce," Johnson said.
Sebastien LeClerc, Schulz chief operating officer, said the logical decision when the company decided to add the new product line was to find something close to the Tunica operation. Convenience and the fact that the Hernando site was already there, saving the company from building a new plant as it did in Tunica, were key factors in the Hernando decision.
The Hernando plant, at 2785 McCracken Road just off Interstate 55, is the former Alumax Extrusions Inc. plant.
"When the economy starting tanking a number of years ago, this was one of the plants Alumax closed," Johnson said. "We're excited to have it back in operation with Schulz."
The Mississippi Development Authority, DeSoto Economic Development Council and Hernando's Board of Aldermen provided assistance in helping the company locate.
Tuesday's job fair by Schulz will be part of the Governor's Job Fair, an annual Mississippi Department of Employment Security event that attracts hundreds to apply for jobs with a variety of employers. The fair will be from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Landers, 4560 Venture Drive at I-55 and Church Road.