Sales at a Longview electric motor business have revved up in recent years, and it’s building more space to grow even faster.
Northwest Motor Service, which sells and repairs elephant-sized industrial motors to municipalities, power plants and factories, is building a new production building on Baltimore Street in Longview.
Company President Spencer Wiggins, who purchased the firm four years ago, said the NMS’s growth in that short time period was the catalyst for moving to a new location. The company has owned an office building and storage site on Baltimore Street for 18 months, and the new plant is rising next to it.
“We outgrew the facility on Industrial Way,” Wiggins said last week. “When I bought the business four years ago, it had really had already outgrown itself then. The investment just hadn’t been made to move. So we decided that we were confident enough to buy some property and make a run at it here.”
Wiggins said NMS is unsure of what will happen with the Industrial Way property.
Before Wiggins took over, the company rarely did business outside of Cowlitz County. Now, it serves the entire West Coast, and it has opened a new facility in Anaheim, Calif. to get more involved in the petrochemical and mining industries in the southwest. Wiggins also stated in a press release that NMS also is one of the largest general electric motor distributors in the world.
The $3.8 million, 40,000-square-foot addition is five times larger than the old site and will improve efficiency, Wiggins said. The company almost moved to Woodland or Kalama to be closer to the Portland area, but it chose to stay in Longview.
“Ultimately, we felt that staying right here in town was important,” Wiggins said. “The local customer base was who supported us and allowed us to grow, and we didn’t want to move further away from where our base is.”
The company’s motors are sometimes weigh 40 tons or more.
“Most people think of electric motors as maybe the fan in their bathroom, or an alternator in the car,” Wiggins said. “So when we bring folks into the warehouse and they see the size and the scope of what we work on, it’s kind of eye-opening for people that don’t realize that this business exists here in Longview.”
NMS revenues have more than tripled in the past four years and the company has added 19 jobs over the past three years, Wiggins said, adding that he’s hoping to hire more once the new plant is complete.
With all this success, it almost became a necessity to construct a new production center.
“It’s really expensive to build a motor shop,” the president said. “Once you’ve built the shell of a building, which is what we’re doing right now, you’re really stuck with that. So for us, we found it easier to abandon the old site and move to a new one.”
Wiggins said he’s already had a positive response for choosing to build his new factory in a run-down part of town.
“One of the folks at St. Vincent De Paul stopped by this morning actually and came into the office and said, ‘What are you guys doing over here? It’s so exciting to see some development down here,’ ” Wiggins said. “It’s kind of been neglected down here, on Baltimore and California streets, especially. They were really excited to see something positive happening down here, because if you look around, there’s a lot of dilapidated buildings and empty warehouses, and it’s definitely an area that needs a boost.”
The new factory is expected to be completed early November of this year.