By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
Gov. Jeff Colyer stopped in Garden City on Tuesday morning at Palmer Manufacturing and Tank, 2814 W. Jones Ave., to celebrate and congratulate the O’Brate family for reacquiring the company, a deal that was announced last week.
“We just want to say thank you for all that’s happened here in Garden City in bringing Palmer back into the fold and to build their business again. Did you kind of miss them a little bit, Cecil?” Colyer said.
Acquired by Cecil O’Brate in 1966, Palmer Manufacturing and Tank was sold by the O’Brates to Worthington Industries in 2013. The company makes steel and fiberglass tanks and processing equipment for the oil and gas industry.
Steve O’Brate, Palmer Manufacturing general manager, said the company started with six employees in 1966 and had about 200 when it was sold to Worthington. Currently, there are about 100 employees but the company plans to grow toward that 200 employee level within three years.
O’Brate said the buy-back happened fairly quickly.
“We sold this to Worthington Industries a little over five years ago, and about 60 days ago they said this is not what they do and they wanted to know if we wanted to buy it back. So it’s been a quick 60 days to buy it back. We took over on Aug. 1,” he said.
Colyer called the transaction an exciting and fantastic opportunity.
“This is about growing jobs in the state of Kansas, and we’re very honored to see this happening here. I understand it’s about a $16 million investment that’s going on. As this grows into its next 100 jobs, those are great jobs across the state of Kansas,” Colyer said.
Colyer said the state of Kansas is proud to participate and assist, and is excited about the opportunity help with technical training.
“These are the jobs of the future and they’re right here, they’re being created right here. So we want to say thank you to the Garden City community, thank you to Steve and Cecil and their whole family for doing this. These jobs are important. We’re so excited to see this happen,” he said.
HJ Swender, assistant to the president at American Warrior, expressed appreciation for the O’Brate family’s continued investment in Garden City.
“As you know, they’ve done so much for this community, this town and this region. It’s going to continue to happen with the purchase of Palmer back,” Swender said.
Lona DuVall, president of Finney County Economic Development, agreed.
“We are very excited to see Palmer Manufacturing back in business,” DuVall said. “I know their customers are very happy to have them back. They’ve done a tremendous job over the years and developed some really good relationships, not only with their employees but with their customer base.”
Palmer Manufacturing worked closely with the Kansas Department of Commerce and FCEDC to make the facility a reality.