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Viracon marks 10th year in Statesboro
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     On April 8, Viracon celebrated its 10th year of operation in Bulloch County's Gateway Industrial Park. Local community leaders joined corporate executives from the company's Owatonna, Minn., headquarters to mark a milestone anniversary which was a welcome sight in today's tough economic climate.
      For those of you who may not be familiar with the particulars of the operation here, the local Viracon plant is a 395,000 square foot facility producing an estimated 10,000,000 square feet of high performance architectural glass annually.
      In addition to the Minnesota and Statesboro plants, the company has a third production facility in St. George, Utah.
      Pat McDermott serves as vice president of operations in charge of the Statesboro facility. McDermott said the plant's 10th anniversary was a big deal to his company with its entire leadership group in attendance including the company's president and 12 vice presidents.
      "It has been a difficult time for any company connected with the construction industry," McDermott said. "We aren't an exception to that. To have something so positive to celebrate was great."
      McDermott acknowledged that Viracon has had two staff reductions this year, one in recent weeks, but he also stresses that the company is in a very good position when the economy begins to turn around.
      "Our parent company Apogee has zero debt," he said. "In fact, we have been able to do some upgrading to this plant during the economic downturn. We are continuing to invest in the future."
      McDermott said upgrades have been made to the "top coating" side of the plant which will allow the Statesboro plant to do glass coatings that it has been unable to do in the past increasing its capabilities.
      When does McDermott think the construction industry will begin to show sustained positive growth?
      "Generally the commercial construction industry lags behind the economy," he said. "It could take from a few months to year for a job to get into the pipeline. Our hope is that some of the projects that were approved, ready-to-go, and subsequently put on hold will be dusted off when the economy begins to turn around. That would cut into some of that lag time that I mentioned. We do think that things will most likely remain slow through this calendar year, but we are prepared for that."
      McDermott said his company is committed to its Statesboro plant, and will continue to invest in that facility.
      "We are thrilled to be here, and have every intention of staying. We will get through these tough times."
      To learn more about Viracon and its parent company Apogee, visit Viracon's website at www.viracon.com.