Muskogee set to help area grow
(Editor's Note: This is the final part in a series looking at Muskogee Metalworks and what it's potential growth and expansion means to Atmore and the surrounding area.)
By Paul Keane
While the potential for growth via defense contracts and other commercial enterprises is huge for Muskogee Metalworks, one things will remain constant – the company is here to stay in Atmore and any growth will take place mainly in this area.
"Atmore is our location and our home," said Mal McGhee, general manager of Muskogee Metalworks. "We are here to stay.
"It's up to us and other companies to help build a good community with safe neighborhoods and good schools. We want to be a part of that and want to help make that possible for Atmore."
Muskogee is in the process of completing a move into the former Vanity Fair building, and McGhee has said the potential for future work and growth is good, adding that his company could add as many 20 jobs shortly after completing the move into the building located near downtown Atmore.
With the potential of other contracts coming in the near future – especially through programs such as Indian Buy, 8(a) and HUBZONE – the potential for growth and future job creation is lucrative, both for the Poarch Creek Indian-owned business and the community as a whole.
"We've got a good quality and delivery record," McGhee said. "Having that kind of good track record helps with the current contracts in that they want to expand their work with us, and it helps in attracting new contracts and new companies to do business with us.
"We're also one of the top minority suppliers to Alabama Power, and we're the only Native American joint venture that is approved by the Small Business Administration. We've done some things that have positioned us to take advantage of some opportunities and grow our company right here in Atmore."
And staying in Atmore – home base for the federally recognized tribe in Alabama – is important, McGhee said.
"One thing I think will be a blessing is the workforce available from the Vanity Fair workers who were laid off when the facility closed here," McGhee said. "Those workers had a great work ethic, and they knew that productivity was the key to building a successful business.
"I truly feel and believe that the textile industry and what we do is not all that different. A lot of the assembly work is very similar and compatible, and I feel like we could use the experience of many of those Vanity Fair workers. I feel a commitment not only to our tribal members but to many of those Vanity Fair workers to try and provide as many jobs as we possibly can in the future.
"I feel like by the end of the year, or in the early part of next year, we could pick up 20-30 new employees. We need to keep our fingers crossed on getting future contracts, but the chances are good and the opportunities are out there to get those contracts and be in need of even more employees."
McGhee said the key will be not only to tap into the experience of the current available workforce, but to continually train the workforce.
With programs being offered locally through Jefferson Davis Community College – and with programs such as the IMTAPP offering training of employees in order to find niche markets for companies such as Muskogee Metalworks – training and enabling a workforce to meet the employment need should not be a large problem.
McGhee said he feels confident he can get a trained workforce in place.
"One big thing is going to be having a good training program," he said. "If we get a good group of people willing to learn, then we can train them.
"The answer to getting a good group of people willing to learn is to offer good pay, benefits, a retirment plan and a good work environment. It would also be good for us to hire local people because they tend to stay local and aren't looking to relocate as much as someone coming from outside the area might be."