On Tuesday morning, August 22nd, the Hancock County Industrial Foundation Board met at the Contour Fabrication & Mechanical, Inc. (CFM) plant site in Lewisport. Hancock native Jason Young, Co-owner of CFM, spoke with board members about the details of the business and provided a breakfast.
Young and Scott Dillback, of Evansville, partnered in 2015 and constructed their first building on the 7-acre lot they purchased at the 25-acre Lewisport Industrial Park site in 2020, with the rest of the acreage open to warehousing. They also began a real estate business, MC3 Development, to build their shop, and provide a way to fulfill their eventual goal of further developing the park.
CFM provides mechanical maintenance work for all of the county’s big industries – Domtar, Century Aluminum, Southwire and Commonwealth, as well as for businesses in other areas, such as Century’s Sebree plant, AK Steel Corporation and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. They are a great example of the diversification of the customer-supplier industry in Hancock County, and they prioritize hiring local employees.
Local factories had to bring in companies from outside the county to do this work before CFM was established, and their goal is to keep the money that is made, in the county and in the area as much as they can.
Young outlined the work CFM is currently doing on the site. “We refurbish all of Southwire’s steel cable reels,” he said. “We’ll receive those in, clean them up, paint them if they need to be painted, do welding on them if they’re damaged and need repair, and basically get them ready to ship back up to Southwire so they can re-use them. We hire from this area. The guy that runs the facility here just moved to Lewisport; He’s a local now.”
Since May of 2022, CFM has been refurbishing Southwire’s reels. They will ship out anywhere between 100-200 a week, and that is projected to grow over the next 2 years. They have reels coming in from locations all over North America as well.
Young told board members a little about the machinery they use. They built their own straightener, and have a de-cabler for materials with cables (20-30 percent of the reels come in with cable on them). They recently put in a strap chopper that fills boxes in 8-10 minutes, he said.
They also have plans to expand. “We’re actually in discussion with a company about a project where you could see another building going up as early as February/March of 2024,” he said. “It’s full right now, except for one space. We have probably 2,000 of Southwire’s reels on the property right now, so the space itself is pretty much full.
When we built this facility, we had no customers for it whatsoever, so it was kind of like a Field of Dreams movie moment – We build it and they will come. That was our thought, and it took us several months before we were able to secure this work. We had one company that we were storing some equipment for, but that was pretty much it.
There were 4 months in 2020 where we didn’t do anything. We were pretty much completely shut down. Since we’ve started back up, we’ve had consistently, probably 20-25 people working every day. In 2022, Southwire gave us this work, and it has grown to where, it was Scott and I doing the work at first, and now we have 8 employees.
We have another project that, if it goes through, it would, potentially, add another 6 employees down here. We don’t have that one yet. We’re still working on that. We would put another building in, with the ability to have shipping & receiving – a shipping dock.
We have talked a little bit to the county about buying an additional 5 acres, where we would put another building which would be our actual fabrication shop. That’s something we’re looking to do in the future and that would, again, add more employees to the operation. Our goal is to get in the 40-50 employee range within the next 5-10 years.”
Mike Baker, Director of Economic Development for the HC Industrial Foundation, extended thanks to Young and Dillback (who could not attend the meeting) on behalf of the board and the community, saying, “We’ve got some real opportunities here in the county to do some economic development gardening, as it’s called in the business, by really helping and nurturing new businesses starting in our county, and it makes it that much sweeter when it’s one of our own.
CFM also represents our shadow strategy, because the work they’re doing here is benefitting and servicing one of our big employers and manufacturers. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Jason, thanks for what you’re doing, the investments you’re making and the risks you guys are taking. You’re stepping out there – you guys are building a thriving, growing business.”
“I just want to thank you for the opportunity to do this,” Young said. “My business partner isn’t here today, because we’re pretty busy. I call him the brains of the operation. He’s the mechanical guy. He started with his uncle at Sterling Boiler years ago. His uncle is Dan Felker (founder of Sterling Boiler & Mechanical in Evansville), and Scott started working for them right out of high school. They started a company called A&D Constructors, which is their non-union commission, and Scott ran that for 30 years. He has so much experience. He has built so many amazing things, and has been all over the country.
One thing my dad told me years ago, he said, ‘Son, if you ever go into business for yourself, surround yourself with smart people.’ Scott is super smart and we get along really well.
Partnership with OCTC
We do partner with OCTC (Owensboro Community Technical College) a little bit. We’ve got J.T. Richards here. We got him out of the welding program there and he’s doing a phenomenal job. We’re looking to do that more and more in the future as we continue to grow. Our goal is to get more guys in the county and in the area working here.”
Young, a 1991 HCHS graduate, worked at Alcoa for 15 years. He ran a plant in Lafayette, Indiana, and then worked at Aleris when he returned to the county. He was later plant manager at Century’s Sebree plant, before beginning his partnership with Dillback and starting CFM.
A very interesting side note is that Dillback has built about 20 rollercoasters at Disney World. “That’s something he’s done in the past,” Young said. “Within the time that we’ve been a company, we’ve actually done work for Disney as well. Scott has built a lot of roller coasters, and was a big part of building the one in Las Vegas that goes around the New York, New York Hotel. He’s built some at Universal Studios – the Transformers Ride and the Mummy Ride. That’s not something we focus on. It may be something we focus on in the future, but we really haven’t discussed that.”
CFM is located at 105 McGill Lane in Lewisport.
By Jennifer Wimmer