Barr Fabrication of Brownwood is determined to prove that it can compete, and beat, the international competition in manufacturing wind generation tower components, and company officials showed a group of state agency representatives how during a tour of the community Wednesday.
“Price is always a big thing, but so is quality,” Chance Barr, company vice president, told a delegation visiting the operation in Camp Bowie Industrial Park on Wednesday. “We’re trying to prove everybody wrong. We can do it, but we’ve got a challenge.”
Barr said the company has a three-year contract to provide 6,600 platforms for generators that will sit on top of wind towers. The company plans to have units under production by the end of the year, then speed the process to 40 units a week and ultimately 60 units a week.
The primary competition in Brazil and Germany average about 20 units a week, and Barr Fabrication is the industry’s only domestic supplier.
Barr Fabrication is part of the four-company family operation that also includes a transportation business, a field services operation and a management company, Barr said. Sandra and Bo Barr founded the company in Cross Plains in 2000, and Chance joined the business four years ago. It started making rail car components, but when that business dried up, other metal business was sought. That’s when Bo Barr found a buyer for wind tower internals.
“That got us into wind energy,” Chance Barr told the group. “We were in a good place before the boom hit.” The company started supplying GE in 2004, and the company moved to Brownwood to locate in larger facilities.
It quickly outgrew those, and obtained funding through the Texas Capital Fund and the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation to build a 27,000-square-foot addition that is one-third larger than its current plant. But that is about half “sold” before it’s finished, Chance Barr said.
“We filled it up with work and employees,” he told the tour of the first structure. “We’ve worked closely with the city on several things.”
Barr Fabrication is also involved in several other energy-related projects, including both solar and oilfield.
The Texas Capital Fund money was awarded based on a promise to add 51 jobs, and Chance Barr said that will happen easily.
“It will probably be more than that,” he said. “We could use 12 welders today.”