GE growth drives Ellison expansion
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | July 24,2012
Anthony Edwards Photo
Ken Shepard of Ellison Technologies works on creating aircraft components made of copper at the newly opened facility in Rutland Town.
Ellison Surface Technologies will add 50 new jobs by the end of the year with 40 more jobs on the horizon for next year at its new satellite manufacturing plant in Rutland Town.
That’s in addition to the 126 workers employed at the Ellison Surface Technologies main plant in the Airport Business Park in North Clarendon.
As a major subcontractor to GE Aviation, Ellison’s 15,000-square-foot space on Quality Lane will make aircraft engine parts for the Rutland GE plant. Ellison will also perform coating work for GE’s Hooksett N.H., plant.
The scope of the work at the Quality Lane facility was outlined Monday afternoon during a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Peter Shumlin, state and local officials and business leaders.
Ellison plant manager Kevin Mattson told the gathering that the company is “stepping beyond our core competency” of coating engine parts.
“They (GE) needed to free up employees and floor space for some of the new projects internally and … working together that allowed them to do that and create new jobs for them and also create new jobs for us through the machining process,” Mattson said in an interview.
The GE plants on Windcrest Road in Rutland Town and Columbian Avenue in the city make compressor blades for almost all of GE’s lines of commercial and military jet engines.
Much of the work at GE has been driven by the GEnx, which powers the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Ellison’s chemical coating process reduces friction and extends the life of the engine parts.
The Kentucky-based company has so far invested $350,000 in the Quality Lane facility, which now employs six workers.
The state has helped out as well with $688,000 in cash incentives under the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive program.
The cash awards are spread out over three years as long as the company meets certain employment and capital investment targets.
Jamie Stewart, executive director of the Rutland Economic Development Corp., said Ellison’s expansion since coming to Rutland 15 years ago has been tied to the growth of GE’s engine business. Stewart said a couple of years ago employment at Ellison was down to about 42 workers.
“I just have to be clear that’s a big part of the story today and a big part of our economy in this region is just how important GE is,” Stewart said.
Starting pay at GE is $26 an hour.
Starting pay at Ellison is $11 to $15 an hour, depending on experience, Mattson said.
Shumlin said the expansion signals part of the resurgence in manufacturing.
“Instead of watching jobs get exported out of America and out of Vermont, this is what we call the best team effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to Vermont,” Shumlin said.
He also said companies like GE and Ellison help make the state a leader in the aerospace industry.
Ellison is also weighing an expansion at its North Clarendon plant with other locations under consideration to serve the local GE plants, Mattson said.
Other officials in attendance Monday were Elizabeth Miller, commissioner of the Department of Public Service; Fred Kenney, executive director of Vermont Economic Progress Council; Thomas Donahue, executive vice president of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce; Brian Grady, GE business leader; Justin Warsinskey, GE human resources manager; Ron Garrow, Ellison site process leader; and Jim Toy, Ellison chaplain.