Wabash National Buys Former Larson Boats Site in Little Falls
Wabash National Corporation is moving into and repurposing Larson Boats’ manufacturing site in Little Falls, which shut down earlier this year.
The purchase marks Lafayette, Indiana-based Wabash National’s first step into Minnesota. The manufacturer of semi-trailers and liquid transportation systems currently operates in Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin and has annual sales of $1.85 billion.
Renovation of the 53-acre, 600,000-square-foot facility will cost roughly $11 million when factoring in the price of machinery and equipment. Wabash National said it would have about 30 workers manufacturing parts for semi-trailers and trucks by the end of June with the goal of having 70 workers on staff by the end of the year. Average pay for those jobs is said to be $18.18 an hour.
By 2022, Wabash National expects more than 100 employees will work at the facility.
“Wabash National selected the Little Falls location as the launch facility for [molded structural composite] products because of the unique combination of an experienced and highly skilled workforce in composite manufacturing processes, along with a fully equipped and highly engineered facility capable of producing large-size parts at high rates of volume,” the company said in a statement.
Many of the new hires joining Wabash National at the Little Falls facility are said to be former employees of Larson Boats. After the boat manufacturer consolidated its operations to a plant in Pulaski, Wisconsin this year, approximately 114 Minnesota workers were left without jobs.
City officials and Larson Boats, however, worked with Wabash National to set up an employment carryover plan.
“We’re very excited to see a large, out-of-state advanced manufacturer and industry leader like Wabash National set up operations in Greater Minnesota,” said Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, in a statement. “This is particularly good news for Little Falls and Morrison County, which have both seen higher-than-average unemployment rates.”
DEED is offering nearly $1 million in financial backing for the transaction—a $400,000 loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund, $380,000 from the state’s Job Training Incentive Program and a grant of up to $188,500 from the state Job Creation Fund. The city of Little Falls and the Morrison County Rural Finance Authority also plan to provide local incentives.
In a statement, Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith said she was “pleased the state of Minnesota was able to help this job-creating expansion become a reality.”