“We’re Metter bound here shortly!” J.C. Gillenwater replied on Friday.
Gillenwater is the owner of Solid Waste Applied Technologies Inc., ‘SWAT’ for short. Already, permitting and pre-construction preparation work are being done at the facility’s new location on Lytell St., just west of Pepsi.
The new business involves a $1.2-$1.5 million investment into the community through new construction of an estimated 16,000 sq. ft. building and related equipment on approximately 14 acres of land.
SWAT was founded by Gillenwater in 2000 and focuses on heavy specialized equipment such as street sweepers, grapple trucks and garbage trucks. “That’s our forte,” Gillenwater said, adding that the company also works on over-road trucks.
For the first 16 years, Gillenwater operated the business as a part-time enterprise, but made the move to full-time three years ago. At the time of start-up, Gillenwater was the only employee, but now SWAT employs eight in Statesboro.
“Now we’re ready to take it to the next level,” Gillenwater said. The next level includes a new location -- Metter -- and the addition of more services.
“We will add body mounts to our services,” Gillenwater said. That means that the customer will select the chassis and the equipment to be mounted “and will go out the door with the finished product,” Gillenwater said.
The plan, he added, is to bring the current team to Metter and immediately expand services, which will mean quickly adding employees. “We will need employees in outside sales, inside parts sales, mechanics and welding,” he said, adding that he anticipates having 12-16 employees within the first year of moving into the Metter location.
Within a three-year time frame, Gillenwater expects to be in the 20-25-employee range.
Gillenwater said that once he decided to expand the business, he started looking for an ideal location.
“I wanted something that makes the most sense,” he said.
As a resident of Vidalia renting business space in Bulloch County, Gillenwater said, “I looked at where Metter is located. It is central to my customer base. It is central for my employees and close to the interstate. All around, it’s a good thing.”
“We want to welcome Mr. Gillenwater to Metter,” said Candler County Industrial Authority Chairman Brian Tootle. “He has been great to work with and has done everything he has committed to doing. This is a great company, a very successful one, and this new location will help him to grow his business tremendously.”
Gillenwater met with Tootle and Candler County Commission Chair Glyn Thrift to devise a plan that works for SWAT and also works for the Industrial Authority, Metter and Candler County. “And it works for what I am doing; it fits my business plan,” he said.
According to Tootle, the Industrial Authority offered Gillenwater the land for his business as long as the new company meets the employee and investment requirements. Otherwise, Tootle said, the company will be required to purchase the land.
“We have a business where the average job, without benefits, is $40 to $50,000 a year. That’s why we agreed to give the land with these stipulations.”
Gillenwater said that presently his company is in the permitting process and anticipates breaking ground in mid-November, with construction starting the first week in January. Around four months later, he said, he plans for the business to be open and operational.
“I’ve been busy getting all the pieces of the puzzle together,” he said. “We have a lot of people excited about this, and my guys are super excited.”