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Kilgore company awarded incentive for expansion, adding 10 employees

By Richard Yeakley
July 2, 2014 at 11 p.m.

The Kilgore Economic Development Corp. will spend about $92,000 to help an area company in a planned $1.5 million expansion that will add 10 jobs.

Kilgore-based Surface Equipment Corp., at 337 Cargill Road, produces equipment for the oil and gas industry.

The company has 80 employees and plans to increase that to 90 within three years.

Lisa Denton, assistant director of KEDC, said the investment would be paid in portions, with about $60,000 being given to the company after it has a certificate of occupancy on the expansion and has proven the up-to-$1.5 million investment.

The other roughly $30,000 would be paid out as the company meets its employment goals of adding 10 workers. Denton said the company expects to meet those targets within a year.

"We are already seeing the benefit of local ownership," Ty Sharp, KEDC president, said in a prepared statement. "We enthusiastically support the company's hard work and commitment to Kilgore."

A group of area investors led by Stephen McLemore of Longview recently purchased the company. McLemore, who earlier was a project manager and director of sales, has been Surface Equipment's president since March 2010.

The company was founded in 1985 by Bart Owens, who sold the firm to an Italian company in 2007.

McLemore's group returned it to local ownership at the end of 2013.

In February, McLemore said the company was growing. Revenues had doubled in the past five years, he said, to nearly $15 million in 2013. Employment had more than doubled in the past few years as well.

Surface Equipment sits on 14 acres off Texas 42 just north of Interstate 20. The company's 40,000 square feet of facilities occupy about half of that land.

In February, McLemore said the company was nearing capacity of its current manufacturing facilities, and making plans to expand. At the time, he said he expected Surface would invest as much as $2 million in new equipment this year.

Denton said the 10 new positions would be full time with benefits, and many would be in welding.

Average pay was not available.

The KEDC board voted on the issue in mid-June, and Surface Equipment signed off on the deal Monday, Denton said.



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