REF reconstruction on track; factory plans to fully reopen

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 24, 2004

After the Feb. 29 fire many people had their doubts as to whether REF would ever open its doors again.

The destruction was widespread and severe. Some believed REF would cut their losses in the Greenville plant and locate elsewhere.

However, REF owner Paul Flubacher had different ideas.

Flubacher never looked back and began plans to re-open the plant immediately.

Soon, his hard work will pay off. The plant is an estimated 120 days away from beginning production.

Flubacher said things have gone well with the construction so far.

&uot;Things are going pretty smoothly,&uot; said Flubacher. &uot;We just got started on Wednesday really, but so far it’s going well.&uot;

Flubacher said he felt the plant was about 120 days away from full throttle.

&uot;They figure it will take about 90 days to build it completely,&uot; said Flubacher. &uot;Then it will take us about another 30 days to get it back in operation and move back up the hill.&uot;

Andy Skipper, of Skipper General Contractors Inc., said he also believes everything will be in order in about 120 days.

&uot;We hope to have them back in operation within 90 to 120 days,&uot; said Skipper. &uot;We just started Wednesday so were only two days into it. We don’t foresee any problems though.&uot;

An expansion is also planned when the new building is constructed.

Flubacher said a significant amount of square footage would be added to the new structure.

&uot;We plan to expand the building approximately 5,000 square feet.,&uot; said Flubacher. &uot;That is a lot for us.&uot;

The first step will be taking down the old building. Before any more plans can be made the damaged structure must be demolished and removed.

This process is expected to be quick.

&uot;We’ve still got to unload the old building and start demolition on it,&uot; said Skipper. &uot;We expect the demolition to take about two weeks.&uot;

Following the fire, Flubacher kept many of his employees at work by moving any equipment that was not severely damaged to Connector Manufacturing.

From there, REF was able to continue some production.

Flubacher said until the new building is ready they will continue to use the building.

&uot;We will continue running 24 hours a day seven days a week at Connector Manufacturing,&uot; said Flubacher. &uot;We’ll use that companies facility until we’re back in operation.&uot;

Flubacher said he has been pleased with the pace of the work so far.

&uot;I can’t complain,&uot; said Flubacher. &uot;We had some glitches along the way, but I can’t complain.&uot;

Flubacher has received a great deal of praise around Butler County for his work to keep the plant in Butler County.

By staying, Flubacher has kept around 65 jobs around for local citizens.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said Flubacher’s efforts made him a true asset to the community.

&uot;I have been very impressed with the way Mr. Flubacher has worked with his employees to get things going again,&uot; said McLendon. &uot;It really shows what kind of man he is and what kind of company we have here in Greenville.&uot;