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home : news : news Sunday, November 19, 2017

10/21/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Pool maker takes dive into DeWitt
Latham Pool newest manufacturer to move to local business park

By Tom Pantera

A little bit of summer has started year-round production in DeWitt.

Latham Pool Products, the newest tenant of the city's industrial park, held an open house Thursday to mark its grand opening.

About two dozen people - government officials, business people, and dealers who will sell Latham's products - were served lunch, introduced to the pool maker's management team, and given plant tours.

Tom Straub, president of the United States division of the Latham, N.Y.-based company, said the DeWitt plant fits in with the company's long-term production strategy.

Straub said Latham, which was founded in 1956, has to pay close attention to where its plants are located. The company moves its products - empty fiberglass pools - largely by truck.

"You're shipping a lot of air," he said, and it's crucial to keep shipping costs down.

After an electrical fire destroyed the Latham plant in Dix, Illinois, about an hour east of St. Louis, it became apparent that despite having plants scattered around the country, one was needed to serve the upper Midwest.

Company officials saw an empty building in DeWitt's Crossroads Business Park during the site-selection process.

"We were looking for something where we didn't have to [build] from scratch," Straub said. "The building made sense, the people we met - everything just made sense."

'The right business'

In addition, the city and state were eager to provide the necessary assistance to open a DeWitt factory, he said.

Thursday's open house also featured remarks from Mayor Don Thiltgen, Greg Gannon of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Co., and State Sen. Rita Hart.

Gannon said the relationship between the company and the city seemed perfect from the start.

"When you visited, we could tell you were the real deal," he said. "We sensed immediately you were the right business for DeWitt, Iowa."

Plant Manager Troy Jones said Latham had hired nine production employees and was seeking about a half-dozen more, plus truck drivers.

That means the plant is not up to full production yet. It's currently turning out perhaps a pool and a half a day; when fully staffed, it will produce about three pools a day.

There is no timetable for the additional hiring, Jones said, but he hopes to be up to full staff "as soon as possible."

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