LSN STAFF WRITER
SHREVEPORT – MB Industries formally entered its most newest chapter of growth on Thursday, Jan. 22, when Shreveport city officials signed papers transferring a city-owned industrial building to the Rayne-based company. A week earlier, the Shreveport City Council approved the sale on a 7-0 vote, according to Fred Gossen, Jr., president of MB Industries.
Located on Benton Kelly Road, right off of I-49, MBI will occupy the former BeairdCo industry site.
In 2004, MBI subleased 200,000 square feet of the building to make blast-resistant buildings there, following a decision to transfer fabrication from the Rayne site.
MBI’s Shreveport site consists of nearly one million square feet under roof (and the roof height is 50 feet), and overhead cranes that each have over 120 ton capacity. In addition to the overhead cranes the new plant has nearly 5 miles of rail throughout the plant and at this plant the firm can roll steel up to 16 inches thick.
The city-owned plant was erected in the 1960s.
The previous occupant, BeairdCo., built 300-foot steel wind towers.
Baton Rouge businessman Sam Eakin, chief executive officer of investments firm Eakin and Co., had bought the BeairdCo mill operations with help from a $1.4 million loan guarantee from the state.
Prior to BeairdCo. going out of business in May, MBI secured an option to inherit the lease.
When Shreveport officials balked at leasing the plant to MBI, the firm filed suit to retain the lease’s favorable terms.
MBI began at a 50,000 square foot production facility in Rayne and in just a few short years consecutively added production, culminating in its acquisition of the 180,000 square foot facility in Mansfield, approximately 25 miles southwest of Shreveport.
The Shreveport facility has a capacity to handle between 500 and 1,000 workers, according to Gossen. He mentioned the previous firm’s workforce at one time exceeded 400. MBI has agreed to give hiring preference to more than 200 people who worked for BeairdCo.
Gossen projected the Shreveport facility may require between $6 million and $10 million in capital improvements.
The Rayne location currently focuses on marine based products.
Gossen reported that MBI has seen its business expand into the military field, where new building methodology research is gaining more attention.