DIXON – Mayor Jim Burke couldn't stop smiling.
SGS Refrigeration Inc., which makes large cooling equipment, is coming to Dixon and eventually bringing 100 or more jobs, the company announced Tuesday.
"This is some good news to deal with the bad news we have," said Burke, alluding to the Rita Crundwell theft and Dixon teachers strike that have grabbed headlines.
The manufacturer will be moving its factory in Monterrey, Mexico, to the former Century Link telephone warehouse at 827 W. Progress Drive. The building was bought from United Country Burke Realty, owned by the mayor, for $770,000.
Last week, SGS acquired Industrial Refrigeration Products of Krack Corp. from Hussmann Corp., which operated the plant in Mexico.
In making the announcement, SGS President Peter Spellar acknowledged that such a move usually goes the other way.
The skilled, underemployed workforce left over from the 2009 closing of Imeco Inc., a Johnson Controls Co., was a leading factor in the move, said Ed Schinner, SGS vice president.
"This is a highly technical, engineered product line," Spellar said. "We didn't feel the people in Mexico could handle it."
Location was another factor.
The factory is within a half-mile of AZZ Galvanizing, which will be a supplier to the new refrigeration factory. Dixon's proximity to the interstate and Rochelle's intermodal transportation hub also were factors.
AZZ management expects to see its production rise, which could lead to more jobs at AZZ. When Imeco closed, about 20 of AZZ's workers were laid off.
"It'll depend on production [how many jobs are created], but we're expecting a ramp-up period," said Clinton Shaw, AZZ sales manager.
The factory will be up and running in late spring or early summer. The Mexico facility will be phased out as the Dixon site comes to full speed.
Economic incentives still are being negotiated, said John Thompson, president of Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The manufacturer said it will utilize enterprise zone benefits, which could alleviate some sales or property taxes.
The 33,000-square-foot former warehouse has 9 open acres for potential expansion.
Burke indicated that SGS will be looking to grow quickly.
The mayor said he hopes SGS will mirror the growth of Raynor Garage Doors.
"Think about Raynor that located in Dixon decades ago with a few employees producing wooden garage doors," Burke said. "Today, they are an international garage door supplier with several hundred employees and one of Dixon's largest private employers."