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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Growing pains: Local company looks at options

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Back in 1962, when Morris Manufacturing was a mom and pop operation in Harmony, the idea of securing big contracts was a big dream for Mike and Paula Morris, owners of the business. Their roots run deep in Clay County, because both Morrises were born here.

"When I went to work in those days, I simply walked out the back door of the house and into the garage," Mike said. "And then when we walked through the doors of our current plant, I wondered how we would ever fill the building with equipment. We were like a B-B in a boxcar."

That was then, and now the business is bursting at the seams. The narrow paths for forklifts are lined with rows of high-tech equipment, turning out an endless stream of machined pieces for shipment throughout the U.S.

"Right now, we are running machined pieces for DaimlerChrysler AG transmissions. Some of their parts are used in the Jeep line of vehicles,"said Garry Wolfe, human resources director for Morris. "We are also starting another line for GM products, however that line is just now being set up."

The plant operates 24-hours a day Monday through Friday, employing 94 people.

"We added 30-plus new jobs last year," Wolfe said.

Besides bringing new jobs to the county, the manufacturing operation this year alone has capitalized more then $4 million in equipment.

To keep the equipment running at full operation involves up to five trucks a day bringing in steel, although the normal delivery is three trucks a day bringing in 50,000 pounds of steel each.

Now, with long-term contracts a reality, Morris Manufacturing is looking to expand. Its 43,000-square foot building is bursting at the seams and the owners are looking at adding an additional 50,000 square feet.

"It is a must that we grow and prosper, and floor space is the key to that end," Mike said. "We are becoming more sought after as a business that can provide a world-class product at a comparable price."

However, the proposed storm water holding pond and all the assorted pipes bringing in that water pose a problem. They might be running out of room.

At the work session of Brazil City Council, tentative plans are for about seven acres of Morris's property to be used for that pond, and that isn't what Mike had plans for when he bought the original 25 acres.

"Right now, we are keeping all of our options open. We will survive," Mike and Paula said.

Although they wouldn't elaborate, the two did say that they can't pinpoint where the business will go, that there are opportunities arising and they want to take advantage of them.

Their road hasn't been paved with gold. As a matter of fact, the company will probably have to clean snow off the city street. The city doesn't go down the road removing snow for some reason, according to Wolfe.

Another problem the company faces is that the semis carrying steel have a hard time maneuvering through city streets to get to the plant. Narrow streets and vehicles parked on the sides of the streets make it very difficult to deliver to the plant.

"We would like to partnership with the city," Morris said about the problems, hoping that the problems can be resolved. "Clay County roots run deep, and any problem can be overcome."

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