Tag Manufacturing Hits a Milestone
Originally published in the Times Free Press by Mike Pare.
Tag Manufacturing acquired 23.5 acres at Enterprise South industrial park in 2004. Tag joined nanofiber business eSpin as one of the first businesses in Enterprise South.
Gary Wilt says his Chattanooga steel fabrication company is marking another first this week.
Tag Manufacturing, which was the first manufacturing plant to be built at Enterprise South industrial park, is delivering the biggest front-end loader bucket it has ever engineered and made.
“It’s the largest we can do,” said Mr. Wilt, the company’s president, about the 8-ton spade-nose rock bucket built for one of Caterpillar’s largest wheeled front-end loaders.
He said the bucket, costing about $75,000 and nearly 15 feet wide, will be transported to a Wisconsin site where it will be used in a rock quarry.
Tag will be dwarfed when Volkswagen opens its 2 million-square-foot auto assembly plant next door in early 2011.
However, Mr. Wilt said the big reason he took a gamble on Enterprise South five years ago was a key factor Volkswagen cited in picking its new plant site — location.
“We liked the location. It was convenient,” he said. “We’re glad we came.”
Tag built a 100,000-square-foot plant in 2005 off Discovery Drive. Later, Mr. Wilt and his brother, Terry, added a like-size addition.
The company that now employs about 90 people was the type of business that city and Hamilton County planners envisioned when they created the massive industrial park out of a former Army ammunition plant site.
“It’s all about creating jobs,” Mr. Wilt said.
He said his new German neighbor, and supplier companies expected to land in the industrial park, are all favorable for Chattanooga.
“It’s going to be good,” Mr. Wilt said.
Most of what Tag makes is construction equipment attachments such as the big bucket it’s shipping this week.
Al Kimble, who helped engineer the bucket with Trace Errera, said the unit also has special wear components which make it unusual.
“They’re not that common,” he said.
Officials said it took four weeks to engineer and make the bucket from start to finish. Mr. Wilt said Tag ships across the country and oversees as well.
He said the economy has taken a toll on his business.
“We’re down 20 percent” from 2008, Mr. Wilt said, adding that he doesn’t see an uptick until 2011.