Cordele lands trailer plant

A Texas-based builder of utility and livestock trailers plans to open a new plant and distribution facility in Cordele, bringing in up to 130 new jobs, officials said Thursday.

The company, Big Tex, has purchased two like-new buildings — built about five years ago by a mobile home manufacturer but never used — off Interstate 75. Distribution operations are expected to begin this spring, and manufacturing operations sometime in the last quarter of this year.

“We’re thrilled,” said Bruce Drennan, executive director of the Cordele-Crisp Industrial Development Council. “It’s a great company. We’ve been working on this project since the early part of 2004.”

Big Tex and its subsidiaries — CM Trailer and CM Truck Bed — make utility trailers, steel and aluminum horse and livestock trailers, and truck bodies. The Cordele location, which includes 174,000 square feet of building space on 55 acres, will allow the company to meet “demand across the eastern U.S.,” according to a news release from Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office. The company also plans to use the Cordele site as a new branch for its Tex Trail Trailer Parts.

“We are really excited about being able to better serve our current dealers and reach new ones in the eastern part of the country with faster deliveries and lower prices. This expansion will help ensure that Big Tex stays on the growth path that we have enjoyed for the last 30 years,” Ricky Baker, the company’s president/CEO, said in the news release.

“A ready and capable work force, the enthusiasm of the community of Cordele and the big welcome from the state of Georgia give us even more confidence that this is the right decision and the right time,” he said.

The new Big Tex operation will need welders, painters, forklift drivers and other similarly trained workers, making it a good fit for the “skill sets of our folks here,” Brennan said.

The announcement is welcome news, “especially in these trying economic times,” Bub Denham, the industrial development council’s chairman, said in the release.

“It will be a tremendous boost to our economy and the people of Crisp County,” he said.

Brennan said local industries have fared reasonably well during the current economic downturn, having had some sporadic layoffs but no plant closures.

“A couple of manufacturers shut down at the Christmas holidays to ease their bottom line. They’ve been holding their own,” he said.

“If nothing else, this is a real morale booster for the community to see something positive in the news.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.