Tulsa-based Ameristar acquires California firm, plans new facility, more hires
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 8:14 AM
Fences are just the beginning for Ameristar Fence Products, and a new acquisition and Tulsa expansion assures the company's footprint will continue to grow.
Ameristar is poised to build a 110,000-square-foot facility at its Tulsa headquarters to manufacture parking booths and other small structures as it widens its line of products.
An Ameristar official said the company expects to hire 40 to 50 people in the next year stemming from its purchase of Parking Booth Co. Inc., a small manufacturing firm in Sun Valley, Calif.
Ameristar plans to keep the 22-worker manufacturing facility in California but emulate Parking Booth's business in Tulsa and expand its presence to the Midwest and East Coast, said Barry Willingham, vice president for Ameristar's security division.
"We have so much steel and welding capabilities in Tulsa, so we're going to build up that operation in California and replicate what they're doing here," Willingham said.
The new division makes pre-fabricated booths. The steel-framed structures are used as toll road and ticket booths as well as security guard buildings, Willingham said.
Ameristar makes ornamental fencing at its 620-employee headquarters. It has moved into related industries during recent years, buying a vehicle barrier company in 2011 and is also getting into automated gate systems.
Purchasing a booth manufacturing company will help Ameristar offer a total package of fences and security systems, Willingham said.
"We really want to take some of these small companies where there hasn't been much innovation in the manufacturing process and use our expertise to expand our presence," he said.
Ameristar hopes to go after a market that has primarily been taken by construction contractors, who build individual booths on a property. But because most clients don't need a customized booth, the product can be mass-manufactured at a factory and sent out to sites at a lower cost.
Construction of the Tulsa expansion will start in 30 to 60 days, Willingham said, adding that Ameristar hopes to add about 20 employees when it is completed later this year.
Ameristar plans to follow the new booth production facility with construction of a 110,000-square-foot building later this year that will speed up manufacturing processes across the entire company.
Ameristar got its start in 1982 when owner Eddie Gibbs began making hardware for wooden fences. Business took off when the company received a federal contract making security fencing for government projects.
Ameristar has added about 120 employees since 2009, Willingham said, not including the anticipated booth-making hiring, Willingham said.
Security and steel decorative fencing is still the company's main business, he said, but the production enhancements have allowed it to reach into other market segments.
"With our marketing and manufacturing, we're going to be able to do a lot of things with this company," he said.
Ameristar Fence Products
Decorative and security fences
Headquarters: 1555 N. Mingo Road
New developments: After buying a booth manufacturer in California, Ameristar is building a 110,000-square-foot facility in Tulsa to expand the operation.
New employees: 40-50
Original Print Headline: Jumping the fence
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
Employees hang steel fence sections onto hooks that will take them to be finish-coated in the automated production building at Ameristar Fence Products on Wednesday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Eli Meeker welds a steel gate at Ameristar Fence Products on Wednesday. Ameristar makes ornamental fence at its 620-employee headquarters in northeast Tulsa but has moved into other manufacturing sectors during recent years. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World