Nov. 2 â A 32-year-old family-owned skid steer loader attachment manufacturer expands production outside its rural Minnesota plant for the first time with plans to upgrade an abandoned tool and die factory in Pikeville, Tennessee.
Virnig Manufacturing Inc. announced Monday that it will invest $ 11.6 million to renovate and equip the former Eclipse plant on Allen Deakins Road in Pikeville and create 74 jobs.
“We are moving the equipment next week,” said Lois Virnig, who co-founded the company with her husband Dean in 1989. “We hope to be in production by January.”
Virnig will manufacture, weld, paint, assemble and ship the same products to the 62,000 square foot Pikeville plant it manufactures at its headquarters in Rice, Minnesota, where the company currently has 180 employees.
âWe are excited about our first expansion outside of Minnesota and are grateful to partner with the State of Tennessee and Bledsoe County,â said Dean Virnig, president of Virnig Manufacturing, in an expansion announcement. âAs a family owned and operated business our values ââguide us and we are happy to join a place where we believe these values ââare reflected. “
Virnig’s product lines support many industries including construction, landscaping, forestry and agriculture.
Bledsoe County Mayor Gregg Ridley told Virnig that Virnig was initially shown the old Dura auto factory, which had been targeted as the site of a US 1,000 Textile Corp. factory. promise that was never developed and which ultimately led its founders to jail for defrauding state and federal governments on contracts and incentives. Dura’s property was seized in 2019, but legal disputes have kept the plant’s immediate status uncertain and prevented Virnig from moving forward with his plans, Ridley said.
Ridley said the county has also shown the prospect of manufacturing the site of the former Eclipse Manufacturing plant which closed in 2009 but has been maintained and leased to other tenants, including Robinson Manufacturing, until recently.
âWe’re excited to get over 70 jobs starting at $ 20 an hour which will have a huge impact on our region,â Ridley said. “We have about 2,400 citizens who leave our county every day to work elsewhere and this will allow some of these workers to work from home and earn a decent salary.”
Bledsoe County is one of nine counties in Tennessee listed as economically struggling by the Appalachian Regional Commission and is eligible for additional state and federal assistance. Last month, the unseasonably adjusted unemployment rate in Bledsoe County was 4.3%, beating the state average rate of 3.5%.
“I greatly appreciate Virnig Manufacturing for choosing Pikeville as the site for its final manufacturing operations,” Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said in a statement on Monday. “Creating jobs in rural Tennessee is a top priority for our state, and those jobs will have a positive impact on the Pikeville community for years to come.”
Pikeville Mayor Philip Cagle thanked the state for helping Virnig land in Pikeville.
âWe have met the owners on several occasions and believe they will be a great asset to our community,â said Cagle.
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340.