Expansion to create 100 jobs at Buena Vista plant
Munters Corp.’s Buena Vista plant builds some of the company’s most complicated equipment. “This has historically been a $40 to $50 million operation,” says Don Driscoll, Munters’ director of Virginia operations. “About 10 percent of our equipment is exported around the world.”
The company is investing $2.5 million to expand operations and upgrade equipment in Buena Vista, a project that will create 100 jobs. The company already has filled about half of those positions, bringing the plant’s total employment to about 250.
Munters makes energy recovery and dehumidification systems as well as custom air handling equipment for a wide range of industries. The Buena Vista plant specializes in HVAC systems with energy recovery components for data centers. “There is a real growing demand for our data-center products,” Driscoll says.
The company’s roots in the area date back to 1991 when Des Champs Technologies moved to Natural Bridge Station in Rockbridge County. Des Champs eventually had two local facilities, one in Natural Bridge Station and one in Buena Vista. The company consolidated operations in Buena Vista in 2000 and sold its building in Natural Bridge. Munters acquired Des Champs in 2007.
“The irony is that, because of our growth, we are now leasing 50,000 square feet in the building in Natural Bridge Station we started in,” says Driscoll.
The company already has moved part of its operations to Natural Bridge Station and upgraded that facility. “We are almost doubling the capacity in the Buena Vista facility,” Driscoll says. “We also bought new equipment and fixtures for production lines.”
Munters officials began planning for expansion early last year, considering several sites around the country. It chose Buena Vista because the plant is known within the company for having a highly skilled workforce and strong engineering capabilities.
“The lynchpin to our success is finding skilled employees that can come in and build this type of complicated equipment,” Driscoll says. “Finding the right people with good mechanical aptitude and the right skill set is key to keeping up with demand.”
The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will give the company $800 for training each of its 100 new employees.
The expansion deal “happened quickly, in the course of 90 days,” says Brian Brown, Buena Vista’s director of economic development. “That was extremely fast for an economic development project.”