HOOKS, Texas -- Expansion Industries, an ammunition manufacturing company whose corporate offices are based out of Carrollton, Texas, is preparing to open a manufacturing facility here.
They have begun preparation work on the East Campus of TexAmericas Center, purchasing the main G Line of the former Lone Star Army Ammunition plant, and have begun preparing the site for operations.
Recently, they also have begun a recruiting drive, advertising an on-site job fair they have coming up Jan. 29. They plan on employing more than 400 by 2023 and have plans beyond that.
The facility will specialize in the production of primers, a key component in ammunition manufacturing, for the small arms industry.
"We have invested $100 million into the site so far," said Richard A. Smissen, owner, Expansion Industries. "This is all about supply and demand. There is serious demand in the industry for this product and right now, for various reasons, the supply chain is falling woefully short. So we are getting ready to do our part to help out with that issue."
Smissen describes the new facility as state-of-the-art, featuring a high level of automation. He said the site at the former Lone Star Army Ammunition plant is uniquely situated for what they will be doing.
"The manufacturing facilities at Lone Star were set up for ammunition manufacturing," said Smissen. "Not only the way the facilities are laid out on the former base, but the facilities themselves are hardened to protect against possible accidents working with this material. What is here was ready for someone like us to come and set up shop. So we've had our people in there getting it ready for a modern manufacturing facility. We aim to be up and running in the first few months of this year."
For the Texarkana Gazette podcast "On the Line," host Karl Richter spoke with TexAmericas Center CEO Scott Norton about the center's mission, the Expansion Industries plant and much more:
Besides getting the facility ready to go, Expansion Industries has already begun recruiting efforts for talent. Though touting modern automated manufacturing facilities, they still will have a sizable labor force, ranging from custodial to skilled labor and technicians, to their own force of truck drivers. They are looking at a wide range of talent.
"We will also need various engineers and skilled professionals," he said. "Those guys will be at a premium and we want to see those resumes."
Smissen says Expansion Industries picked the Hooks area for several specific reasons.
"This is a big asset that will do Hooks and the surrounding asset a lot of good," he said. "Also, this is a key transport area, with easy access to highway and rail freight transport, right there on TexAmericas Center. When it comes time to start shipping, there is not a place better, both in set up and location. And we will be shipping everywhere, both in this country and many places globally."
Smissen sees Expansion Industries as more than a manufacturing company, however. They have a core set of values that they emphasize with their products.
"Every box of our ammunition, we make it clear it is about freedom," he said. "The first 10 Amendments of our Constitution lay it all out, our liberties. And the 2nd Amendment is about the freedom of an American to be armed, to defend against any who would seek to take away that freedom. And should our 2nd Amendment fall, there is nothing to prevent the rest of it from being taken. We are a faith-based company and we make that clear. We are doing what we can to take a stand for American freedoms, support shooting sports and with this facility, we will be taking it all to the next level."
Smissen made it clear it was quite a maze of bureaucracy he had to navigate to get this facility up and running.
"Miles of red tape and mountains of paperwork, that I can tell you," he said. "And we would not have gotten this done without the team supporting us at TexAmericas Center. Scott Norton, Eric Voyles, Jeff Whitten, Teresa Kemp, Devon McClosky, thank you all."
(The Expansion Industries job fair takes is scheduled for Jan. 29 at 523 Titus Road, Hooks, Texas. Prospective employees are invited to email resumes to exp-ind.com online. TexAmericas Center is sprawling business complex located about 20 miles west of Texarkana near New Boston and Hooks, Texas.)