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Sidney Lukjan Metal Products announces plans to expand into Gering

September 22, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Sidney business owner Herb Gibson with Lukjan Metal Products had such success fabricating duct work materials for residential HVAC systems, he and his partners want to expand into Scottsbluff and Gering.

Gibson shared his ideas during a joint meeting of the Scottsbluff and Gering LB 840 review committees to open a commercial plant in the old Lockwood Building on M Street in Gering.

The new company, Prime Metal Products, would start with 92,000 square feet to fabricate HVAC duct work for commercial applications, anything from malls to skyscrapers.

“Right now, the building is primarily used for storage, so it’s not producing jobs for the community,” Gibson said. “We expect to create 15 jobs in 2019 and expand from there.”

The business will be a union shop, which will allow them access to larger markets such as Wichita and Kansas City.

“These manufacturing jobs are important because they will help diversify the local economy,” he said. “It’s not a big increase on the manufacturing side, but it does help balance the economy somewhat.”

Gibson and local officials had considered a number of options before choosing the Lockwood site. It’s fully powered, has cranes for use in fabrication, and has truck docks and rail access onsite to bring in steel.

“Most of our raw steel comes from United States mills,” Gibson said. “Although tariffs have brought up the price of steel, the kind we use isn’t conducive to foreign competition.”

Because the plant will be centrally located, shipping rates will be reasonable to builders across the country.

Gibson said it’s will be about four or five months before Prime Metal Products could be operational, once financing is in place.

“Ultimately, what we’re looking for is making a difference in the community by creating jobs,” he said. “Those jobs help create other jobs that make the local economy stronger so the community can continue to prosper and grow.”

He said the workforce needs to be homegrown. The unions will participate in training workers. Education is also available through the Harms Center at Western Nebraska Community College and the career academies at local high schools.

Gibson said his company wants to replicate its success in Sidney for the Scottsbluff-Gering area.

When Lukjan opened in Sidney in 2017, the company had a seven-year plan with the city to employ 50 people and a 30-employee agreement with the state. Within 18 months, they had reached the 50 employee mark. Since then, the turnover has been only four employees.

“We found the workforce is what we expected,” Gibson said. “It was fantastic and our growth was strong. Sidney has been struggling recently, so I’m pleased we’re making a difference there.”

Gibson’s presentation to the Scottsbluff and Gering LB 840 review committees is only the first step in the lengthy process to bring the $11.9 million project to the community.

“We had a good working relationship with Herb while I was helping with the Lukjan project in Sidney,” said Starr Lehl, now the economic development director for the City of Scottsbluff. “He called and asked if we had anything available for a commercial plant. The Lockwood building was everything he wanted. Right now, we’re trying to see what kind of financing package we can put together for them.”

jpurvis@starherald.com

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