In early June, negotiations that had been underway for over a year finally bore fruit when Chicago-based Griffin Wheel Company announced its decision to build a $150 million manufacturing plant on a 300-acre site near Catoosa. The plant will manufacture
Cast steel wheels for freight cars and locomotives.
"Griffin Wheel's decision benefits Tulsa in several ways," said Mickey Thompson, Tulsa Chamber's Vice President of Economic Development. "First, manufacturing railroad wheels contributes to Tulsa's on-going diversification. Second, Griffin Wheel represents a recession-resistant industry. Finally the firm has demonstrated its confidence in Tulsa's economy in general and the labor force in particular. You'd better believe that other companies considering expansion and relocation will sit up and take notice".
Plans call for a 275,000 square foot facility that will employ 250 people. Construction is slated to begin this summer, and the plant should be fully operational by early 2001. Eldon McDonald, a Griffin Wheel employee since 1986 with experience as a plant manager in Winnipeg, Canada and Kansas City, Missouri, will head up the operation in Tulsa. "My goal as plant manager is to do everything I can to make sure that Griffin Wheels Tulsa facility is a success for both the company and for this community," said McDonald.
Griffin Wheel's parent company, AMSTEAD Industries, is a privately held, employee-owned, diversified manufacturer of products for the railroad, construction, building and general industry markets. In 1998, the company reported sales of $1.25 billion.