PORT ORANGE — Thompson Pump & Manufacturing Co. has been feeling a little cramped in the corner pocket of City Center and the family-owned company thinks now might be a good time to expand.
On Tuesday night, the 47-year-old firm offered to purchase a plot of land the city owns on Williamson Boulevard, west of Interstate 95 and just north of The Pavilion at Port Orange. The 15-acre parcel bisects the space between Raydon Corporation and Williamson and faces Town West Boulevard.
"It's approximately a $14 million construction investment and they're looking at about 40-50 additional jobs," Community Development Director Wayne Clark said as he introduced the intentions of Thompson Pump for the land — calling it a corporate relocation.
But the City Council didn't need any prodding. In a 4-0 vote with Councilman Bob Ford absent, the dais approved the $1 million sale almost as quickly as it was offered. The Volusia County Property Appraiser's website lists the 2015 value of the land at $1,188,666.
"He has a great history of being a great corporate citizen, which brings me to just one question," Councilman Don Burnette said. "When can we close?"
"Before the crash ... you pulled back and prepared yourself for the future," Mayor Allen Green said about how the manufacturing company managed to weather the Great Recession.
The firm currently employs about 335 employees with between 120-140 of those working in Volusia County. That's quite a bounce back from where it was during the downturn. Thompson had slashed its size by about 35 percent, but now it's back up to pre-recession levels.
The global export company, which does business in Canada, Mexico, Africa, Australia and South America, has been feeling a bit confined in its nine-building, 11-acre, 100,000-square-foot facility at 4620 City Center Drive in Port Orange. The company generates about $45 million in annual sales, manufactures about five large pumps a day and about 1,500 a year. The headquarters and only manufacturing facility is in Port Orange, and all of the branches are full-service facilities aside from two sales offices in North Carolina and Mississippi.
"This is 10 years in the making," company chairman Bill Thompson said. "Right now we're at almost full capacity. We're limited until we enlarge."
The patriarch of the internationally known company with 20 distributors and 22 branches in 11 states said it wasn't always so crowded where they set up shop near City Hall. "It was pretty rural here until the city started expanding this way," he said.
Now Thompson says the firm, which manufactures engine-powered portable pumps for dewatering, bypass and emergency pumping applications according to its website, will look to build a separate manufacturing plant on the city's western edge and keep the current digs for sales and service.
City Manager Jake Johansson said the city is looking to put Thompson Pump on the community development department's "fast-track" program, he said.
The VMA manufacturing alliance president Jayne Fifer said she was thrilled to hear the company that won its "Exporter of the Year" award last year is looking to expand.
"You know, we spend a whole lot of money to go out and bring manufacturers in here," said Fifer about the company that joined in 1981. The VMA — originally called the Volusia Manufacturers Association — is a trade association for manufacturers in Volusia and Flagler counties. "But to grow our own. That's much better."