MOUNT JACKSON—Shenandoah County’s newest manufacturer was on display for county and town leaders Thursday morning. TruckVault, a Washington state-based company producing armored drawers for trucks and SUVs, is open for business.
TruckVault purchased the old One Stop Deli building in Mount Jackson’s industrial district. In February, TruckVault hired Rhodenizer Construction to help convert the space to fit its needs. Patrick Garrett, TruckVault’s general manager, said the firm has spent nearly $1.5 million to get the plant up and running.
TruckVault CEO Al Chandler mingled with everyone at Thursday’s event. He said the partnership with Mount Jackson was unexpected but has been welcome. The Mount Jackson partnership only happened after TruckVault approached the state of Virginia, and the results trickled down to Shenandoah County.
Chandler said he was grateful for Mount Jackson’s willingness to welcome his company and thanked the town by outfitting two vehicles with complementary TruckVault equipment. One town vehicle and one police vehicle with the product were on display on Thursday.
“It’s self-serving to a degree,” Chandler said about the donation. “We wanted to have some vehicles with product in it for this event. At the same time, they’re part of our community, so why not?”
In its beginning stages, about 10 employees are constructing truck vaults. Garrett said he expects that number to grow over the next year. The company’s Washington facility has about 45 employees, he said.
“When we have two locations going, we will eventually get up to 60-plus just here,” he said. “We are positioning to grow our business, and we’re a lot closer to a majority of our customers here in Virginia.”
While some of the jobs require previous training, most of them are entry-level positions Garrett said.
The base of all truck vaults is plywood panels. Garrett said they haven’t hired many people with previous woodworking experience, so much of the workforce is learning how to use drills and saws on the job.
“Motivated people can learn anything,” Garrett said. “What we’re looking for are motivated people with good attitudes … and there seem to be quite a few of them around here.”
Some employees such as Shelby Bennett, of McGaheysville, are learning how to use more advanced computer-aided design machines. Bennett can, with the push of a couple of buttons, run the $110,000 machine back and forth over the plywood boards.
All of the plans and designs are programmed into the machine, and pieces from different models can be cut from the same board, making the process more efficient, Garrett said.
Despite the plant still being in its beginning stages, Garrett said company executives are already considering opportunities to expand. The factory’s back wall serves not just as a stopping point but is reinforced to allow an expansion of 50 percent more space, he said. TruckVault already owns the property to expand, and Garrett said Mount Jackson is open to allowing them to use more space if necessary.
Chandler said TruckVault wanted to come to Virginia to expand its operations and to be closer to many of its customers. Major hubs such as Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C., are more accessible now because of the plant in Mount Jackson. Chandler envisions a large market within the state and its surrounding areas and says he thinks this plant will be a major producer for years to come.