Expansion of state-of-the-art facilities creates new jobs in rural Utah

Local employer Intermountain Electronics, or IE, was one of the best-kept community secrets during the first two decades of the 2000s. But that all changed in the past five years, a period culminating in the completion of its 150,000 square foot expansion on Highway 6, just south of Price, which will more than double its local manufacturing footprint. This expansion will require the addition of another 70 employees over the next year and will allow IE to more than double its local workforce from 200 employees to over 400 by the end of the decade.

Founded in 1985 to repair electrical components for mining, IE is now one of the nation’s leading energy infrastructure specialists. Over the past 30 years, the company has grown to serve multiple sectors of the energy industry, including oil and gas, power and utilities, data centers and, of course, the local and national mining industry.

“Diversification has been key over the past few years,” said company CEO Phillip Blackburn. “The process involved a lot of innovation and we were able to take our problem-solving DNA from mining and apply it to other industries.”

However, it was not all easy for the company. The political and economic challenges of coal and then oil and gas have led to several cycles of ups and downs over the past 15 years. In late 2016, with its oil, gas and mining operations under significant pressure, IE undertook a major project in the emerging battery energy storage industry in Southern California. Blackburn noted that the short deadline and schedule pushed IE and its employees to the brink. A similar but larger project in 2021, amid COVID, again tested IE’s resolve.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but thanks to our team, we delivered on our commitments and, for the second time in five years, we delivered the largest energy storage project in the world,” said Blackburn. “Our team was amazing.”

This time, the company’s growth has not gone unnoticed. In 2020, IE was recognized by Utah Governor Gary Herbert as Utah’s “Business of the Year”. Company owner and founder John Houston is grateful for the recognition, but is more focused on building the new factory extension, despite the challenges created by COVID. “It has certainly been a challenge trying to build in this environment, but we owe it to our customers and our employees. They’ve both been really good to us,” Houston said.

Diversifying into broader energy markets, including becoming one of the industry’s leading providers of power solutions for data centers to companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, required more factory space and a larger workforce. In addition to the previously mentioned record-breaking energy storage projects, the Price factory provided key electrical infrastructure to Facebook’s new data center campus in Salt Lake City and Intel’s new onshore semiconductor factory in Phoenix.

“Over the next 18 months, we will also provide process and electrical infrastructure for the new IPP plant in Delta, Utah,” Blackburn said. Delta’s plant will be the first plant in the United States configured to run on a combination of natural gas and “green hydrogen” made entirely from Utah solar power.

“Our workforce is the heart and soul of everything we do here,” Blackburn continued. “IE’s competitive strategy ultimately comes down to the quality and commitment of our people. And although we have growing factories that support our customers in Denver as well as the East, our property, the Houston family, will always have a special connection with the people here in Carbon and Emery counties. Our work is demanding and our team is extremely dedicated. We are therefore delighted to make this investment and to provide additional opportunities for our team here,” he concluded.

The company has a long history of working closely with local educators to provide students with opportunities to learn about energy and manufacturing. IE runs a STEM-focused “Explorations” class in local elementary schools, offers a high school internship program, and has partnered with USU Eastern and Carbon School District to offer a personalized learning program that empowers students to obtain technical education diplomas while learning in a practical and remunerated environment.

While students and interns are valuable to its workforce, they aren’t the only type of employees IE is looking to add to its team. “No matter where you are in your career path, from entry-level to tradespeople to experienced supervisors, IE has an opportunity for you,” said IE recruiter Dana Alcon.

The company is hosting an Open House and Community Career Fair on November 10 from 4-7 p.m. “We hope the community will come and see what we are,” Houston concluded.

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