October 14, 2011

Newberry Tanks under new ownership – and staying put in West Memphis

A fixture in West Memphis for a half century, Newberry Tanks transitioned earlier this year to new ownership, but new president Chris Long says the company’s not going anywhere.

The reasons range from an established workforce and strategic location to low operating costs and the business-friendly environment of local and state governments. The new ownership means more capital, but Long says that instead of physical expansion, the focus now is on updating the facility.

“The company has been here a long time and we need to invest in modernization to keep it competitive,” Long said. “I do anticipate that by modernizing we will be significantly expanding our volume of business.”

A manufacturer of steel and fiberglass petroleum tanks, the company was started in the mid-1940s by James ‘Jimmy’ Newberry and moved to its current location in West Memphis in 1951. After Newberry’s retirement, the company was acquired by Hamilton Tanks of Columbus, Ohio.

The ease of financing the transition to new ownership is one of many reasons Newberry Tank is staying put in West Memphis, Long said. “Fidelity Bank was persistent, flexible and competitive in helping me put together the package to bring the new ownership group in.”

Another plus for the West Memphis location is local workforce. The facility employs 35 workers. “Newberry has a group of long-time, experienced welders and fitters – skilled craftsmen that give us the competitive edge we need to provide quality product and on-time delivery,” Long said.

Location, of course, counts as well. Besides easy access to the third busiest section of interstate in the United States for truck traffic, the largest river for deepwater cargo traffic and five class-one railroads, Long says that the current Mid-South location is also a strategic no-brainer because of steel supply – with new technology steel mills in nearby Blytheville, Ark. and Columbus, Miss.

Finally, Long said, doing business in West Memphis just makes financial sense for Newberry. “Another thing that is dynamite about West Memphis is the utility costs – particularly the electricity. I’ve been a part of businesses across the country and the utility costs here are about half of what I’ve seen in other locations.”

The various incentives provided by the city and by the State of Arkansas is another part of the low-cost equation.”The ability to help us with economic development incentives has been very important for the development of our business. Ward Wimbish has been really helpful.”

And for all those reasons, Wimbish – the city’s economic development director – adds more weight to his sales pitch that it makes sense for businesses to Turn to West Memphis. And for Newberry Tanks, it makes sense to STAY in West Memphis.

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Newberry Tanks