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Plant to double size with $12 million expansion

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By SAM HATCHERThe Wilson Post           A manufacturing company that has been located in Lebanon for almost a decade publicly announced Thursday that it will build a new $12 million plant here and nearly double its existing payroll within the next five years.           Darin Lowery, the local general manager of Permobil, Inc., a Swedish-based company that manufactures high-end electric wheelchairs, told members of Lebanon’s Morning Rotary yesterday that his company plans to build a new manufacturing plant here this year and be in that plant by the summer of 2010.             

This is a preliminary sketch of the new Permobil plant which will expand to a total facility of 120,000 square feet in size. Company officials are looking for 15-19 acres on which to locate the new plant.  

Artwork courtesy of Manous Design

Lowery appeared at the Rotary meeting with Lebanon architect Mike Manous of Manous Design, who is in charge of the design of the project.           According to Lowery, Permobil, which opened its manufacturing plant here in the Eastgate Business Park near Dell in 2000 with 25 employees, now maintains a payroll of 85. He said plans for the company call for the expansion of the employee workforce to rise to 169 within the next three to five years.            Speaking about the plans for the new structure, Manous said the building will contain approximately 120,000 square feet and will cost in the range of $12 million.           Manous said the project is currently in the site selection phase adding that two sites, both near I-40, have been identified as being high on the list of possible locations for the new plant.           Manous noted a number of unique amenities being included in the plans for the new building. He said the structure will be “green friendly” and listed several design concepts to compliment the green theme including offsetting electrical usuage through a process in which electricity will be generated on site, the use of natural light throughout the building and certain sustainability concepts to include high efficiency water heaters, a rain garden, geo-thermal heating and cooling, natural finishes on panels and walls and use of solar energy.           Manous said the building will reflect what Permobil manufactures, “quality of life products.”            Permobil is regarded as an industry leader in the manufacturing of  electric wheelchairs that are specialized and custom made for the clients the company serves.           The company’s website states that “For more than 40 years we have been working with, and for, people with various kinds of functional disability. We have met and become familiar with tens of thousands of people who have described the facts of their existence, their dreams and needs. We have become an important part of their day-to-day lives thanks to our products and services. It is a privilege to have such strong, close relations with customers. It is also one of the reasons why we have had such success with our products and services. We always focus on people and their needs. Our products are the result of an unique collaboration between users, occupational therapists, and our organization as a whole.”           The average price of a wheelchair sold by the company according to Lowery is about $25,000. He said the company has more than 700 agents or dealers selling its products in the U.S.
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