In 1990, Bob Gilchrist acquired a small Tennessee manufacturer of road-repairing equipment, moved it to Mississippi and subsequently took the product worldwide. And, Gilchrist’s company — Duraco Industries Inc. in Jackson — is in the midst of more significant growth after its recent acquisition by Plymouth Industries of Minnesota.
“We’re busy, but we’re having a lot of fun,” Gilchrist said with a laugh.
Gilchrist spent his early years running the family’s heavy equipment dealership until the Gilchrists sold it. Looking for something to pick up, he ran across the Tennessee company and saw potential.
“They had a great product that just needed a little bit of help,” Gilchrist said.
The product was an injection-type road repair machine, designed to fix major road problems such as potholes and “alligator cracks.” Gilchrist took that product, known today as the Dura Patcher, tweaked it, and Duraco was born.
Gilchrist said he knew the product was exceptional, but even he has been pleasantly surprised by the company’s success. Offering truck- and trailer-mounted models as well as its newest product, Dura Maxx that allows one-person operation, Duraco’s equipment began attracting customers from all over the U.S., then the world. Touting its ease-of-use and cost effectiveness, Duraco has won customers as far away as China and Brazil. Today, approximately 45 dealers carry the company’s product line.
As significant as Duraco’s growth has been, the company’s horizons have broadened since its acquisition by Plymouth, a deal that was finalized earlier this year. Plymouth already owned the Cimline product line, which includes Magma Series melter/applicators, EQIPT sealcoating equipment and other products. So, Duraco’s products were a natural fit for Cimline and Plymouth.
Plymouth was also a natural fit for Duraco. Gilchrist said other companies were courting Duraco at the same time, but they just didn’t meet his expectations. What swayed him to Plymouth was the fact that the company committed to keeping the plant in Mississippi and retaining all of the employees and management.
Those engineering resources are already coming into play as Duraco has several new products on the table. Gilchrist couldn’t comment on any of the new products’ specifics, but expects to have an expanded product lineup by the end of the year.
What is known is Duraco will grow. The company currently operates a 15,000-square-foot plant not far from the Jackson-Evers International Airport, and employs 25 workers. Duraco has plans to expand the facility to 30,000 square feet, or move to a larger facility if expansion proves impractical. And, Gilchrist said the number of employees would at least double, too.
Gilchrist gave the lion’s share of credit for the company’s success to its workers and management, including general manager David Sitton and sales manager Nat Alford, both Mississippians. They will join Cimline vice president Brad Dunn and sales manager Steve Johnson in the management of the combined product line.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.
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