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Community rolls out carpet for InsulTech
- Click here to see more photos from Insultec and Datepac
Tom Bercaw had no intention of moving his company from California to Yuma. The owner of InsulTech, a company that makes high-tech thermal and acoustic insulation, would “pass right through Yuma” on the way to his plant in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son.
Then Bercaw decided to learn more about Yuma and contacted the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp.
“We started chatting about ‘what if?' I realized there's an opportunity here. Why am I going all the way to the border?”
He took the “Greg LaVann tour of Yuma,” he said, referring to GYEDC's senior project manager, and decided “this place is cool.”
He started looking at property. Initially, though, Bercaw wanted enough space to move a piece of his operation to the city.
“My ‘aha!' moment was when I looked at this building,” he said.
After touring the 17,000-square-foot facility at 3860 S. Arizona Ave., he decided to “resettle” the entire operation in Yuma.
The welcome he got made up his mind. “The people down here in Yuma have been so helpful. Everyone is so excited to have our company come here.”
The slower pace in lifestyle further convinced him. “The quality of life is totally different. The economy is a lot cheaper, but the pace here, it's not sleepy, just more natural. The community is its fiber, you really see it. I really believe the people here love living here.”
The facility will eventually become a full manufacturing plant, with all four of the company's lines produced here by end of the year or early next year. Then the engineering and customer service departments will relocate to Yuma.
InsulTech will employ 30-40 during the first phase and will “organically” grow the work force to 50-100 by the end of 2013, Bercaw said.
The company currently employs 100 people nationwide. Bercaw started InsulTech in 1994 in Santa Ana, Calif. It had estimated sales of about $20 million worldwide in 2011.
On Wednesday, GYEDC hosted a grand opening celebration at Insultech. In addition, Keith Watkins of the Arizona Commerce Authority presented InsulTech with a $463,925 check, the biggest grant in ACA's history. The funds from the Rural Economic Development Grant Program will be used to purchase equipment needed for its relocation to Yuma.
“We have had no misgivings about giving this grant,” Watkins said, noting the positive impact it would make to Yuma's quality of living.
Yuma has received the lion's share of ACA's funding. In addition to InsulTech, Watkins presented Datepac, a consortium of area Medjool date growers, with a $60,000 check on Tuesday. Datepac will use the grant to fund expansion of its date-packing facility.
Last year, Yuma received 70 percent of the funding. Johnson Controls used the funds to pay for expansion of the company's battery distribution center in Yuma. Yuma International Airport used it for improvements to Rolle Airfield.
City Administrator Greg Wilkinson welcomed Bercaw and InsulTech, calling the company's arrival “a great event” for Yuma.
“When I saw Tom walk in with flip-flops, I thought this guy will fit right in,” Wilkinson quipped.
LaVann also joked about Bercaw's first impression, noting that he walked in wearing jeans, a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.
“He's a true businessman but a surfer at heart,” LaVann said.
LaVann recalled the bumpy road of bringing InsulTech to Yuma. “Many times we didn't think it would happen. We had highs and lows. I'm proud of what we have accomplished and it will be excellent for the future of Yuma.”
Bercaw agreed the process was “long (and) arduous.” He thanked GYEDC and the city for helping get it off the ground and YPIC for getting the work force established.
“Our team is committed to making this particular facility a major force,” Bercaw said.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.