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Brandon turbine firm planning to hire 250
Production begsin in July, fully operational in '14
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger reporter

June 04. 2013 9:44AM
A Canada-based manufacturer of wind turbine towers plans to hire 250 people in its new Brandon plant by the end of next year.

Patrick Pellerin, president of Marmen Energy, a Quebec-based company, told a gathering of state, county and Brandon city leaders Tuesday morning that he wants the Brandon facility to be part of the best wind turbine company in the world. “That is the only thing that will be acceptable to us,” he said.

Marmen bought a 150,000-square-foot building in Brandon’s Corson Development Park. Built in 2010 for Tower Tech Systems, the building never has been used. Tower Tech, a division of Broadwind Energy, put operations on hold until the Wisconsin-based company could secure enough contracts for wind towers. That never happened.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, in Brandon for Marmen’s official welcome Tuesday, said the company was “attracted to the prospect of a building that was ready to go.”

Pellerin said the company plans to cut its first piece of steel in Brandon in July, with the first finished product planned to ship out in November.

Marmen had considered expanding to the United States in 2008, Pellerin said, but the country’s economic downturn made that unfeasible. At that time, the 40-year-old company that has been in the wind business for the last 10 years had not considered South Dakota at all. When the U.S. economy began recovering, Marmen officials again considered the U.S., but South Dakota still wasn’t on their radar.

Pellerin said the company had made an offer to another state about six or seven months ago, but that didn’t work out. Then, Marmen became aware of South Dakota.

“I first became aware that Marmen was looking at South Dakota when Steve Watkins, our economic development man in this area, arranged for Pat Costello and I to come to Sioux Falls and meet with Patrick Pellerin (in March),” Daugaard said. The company had looked at cities up and down the Interstate 29 corridor, he said.

During their meeting, Pellerin told the governor that Marmen was looking for quality workers, and that was more important than having all the skills needed to build wind turbine towers. The company can train people for the skills they would need, he said.

“And then I knew we were the right place for Marmen,” Daugaard said, “because of the character of the workforce.”

When Pellerin asked him about South Dakota’s workforce, Daugaard responded without hesitation, Pellerin said. “That was very reassuring,” he said.

Pellerin said that once he met with South Dakota officials, “everything went super fast, super smooth and super easy,” and he called the Sioux Falls area “some kind of a jewel that we are discovering.”

Brandon’s mayor, Larry Beesley, expressed a “very warm and very heartfelt welcome” to company leaders Tuesday in Brandon.

Dennis Olson, Brandon’s assistant administrator, said earlier this spring that the company probably will be in the top five of the city’s employers.

According to literature provided by Marmen, the company does machining, fabrication and mechanical assembly of parts of all sizes as a sub-contractor for original equipment manufacturers.

Marmen ships its products all over the world, Pellerin said, and has been producing wind towers for the U.S. market since 2002. The Brandon site, the company’s first U.S.-based plant, will save on shipping costs, Pellerin said.

Pellerin said the company plans to expand the Brandon facility to 200,000 square feet. The plant is expected to be fully operational next year.

The company has hired its first South Dakota employee, Mary Jones of Sioux Falls, a human services specialist. She already is holding interviews for welders, mechanics, electricians and other workers that will be needed.

Pellerin said it’s important to his company to hire quality people who care about quality and aspire to make Marmen the world leader in wind turbine manufacture. “We don’t hire skills, we hire value,” he said.
What: A family-owned Quebec, Ontario, Canada, company that specializes in high-precision machining, fabrication and mechanical assembly.

Locally: Recently bought 41 acres in Brandon’s Corson Development Park. The land includes a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

Plans: To use the facility to manufacture wind turbine towers for distribution in the United States. Hiring now for a workforce of up to 250 people.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard talks Tuesday in Brandon about how Marmen Energy chose Brandon for its first U.S. wind turbine manufacturing plant. Seated is Marmen president Patrick Pellerin (left) and Pat Costello of the Governor's Office of Economic Development. Photo by Alica P. Thiele

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