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Wendy Reuer, Published January 14 2013

Former DMI reopens as container manufacturer

WEST FARGO – The company that took over DMI Industries – a wind turbine plant located here – has reopened the plant to manufacture containers for energy-related products.

Dallas-based Trinity Industries told city leaders the West Fargo plant now will produce containers that can hold 100,000 gallons of products such as water, propane or anhydrous ammonia.

The West Fargo plant has been open for the past six weeks with about 40 employees on the job. The first product was shipped from the plant last week.

The company plans to grow to more than 75 employees in the coming months, said Mark Vaux, West Fargo economic development director, in a statement.

DMI had about 500 employees in total before the sale, and 216 of those jobs were in West Fargo.

Vaux said he believes some if not most of the employees at the plant are likely former DMI workers.

“Some former DMI employees are now working elsewhere in the region,” he said. “The process of what they are doing is very similar to what they were doing at DMI. The end result is just much different.”

Despite the product change, Vaux said the company’s production still meets zoning and ordinance requirements of the city.

Otter Tail Corp. sold DMI to Trinity in October in a $20 million deal that included plants in West Fargo, Tulsa, Okla., and Ontario, Canada.

Numerous messages for Trinity leadership have not been returned.

Of the three DMI facilities purchased by Trinity, the West Fargo plant is the first to be fully operational, city officials said.

Mayor Rich Mattern said the plant’s proximity to the Oil Patch and the city’s transportation infrastructure made the West Fargo location an ideal spot for container manufacturing. Trinity ships the products to western North Dakota and across the country.

Vaux said a downturn of oil prosperity in North Dakota would not endanger the plant’s business because of the company’s wide customer base.

“It would be an impact, but it would not be devastating,” he said.

The West Fargo plant falls under a subdivision of Trinity Industries, Trinity Containers, which is a leading manufacturer in pressure containers.

Although Trinity also produces wind turbines, Vaux said the products are unlikely to return to West Fargo because other Trinity plants are closer to wind turbine destinations.

“It’s incredibly expensive to transport those turbines down the road,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530