Mountain Grove, Mo.-based Bulldog Pipe LLC will invest almost $7 million to renovate a vacant industrial site in Aberdeen, N.C., into its second manufacturing plant as the young business grows with customers.
The veteran- and family-owned company began extruding high density polyethylene pipe in Missouri in June 2020 — three months into the COVID-19 pandemic — for the telecommunications, power utility, electrical, and oil and gas markets.
"We had already issued our [purchase orders] and down payments for the building and equipment before the pandemic started so there was no looking back," Brandon McIntosh, Bulldog Pipe's director of strategic planning, operations, procurement and purchasing, said in an email.
Named after the Marine Corps mascot, Bulldog Pipe opened to strong demand for conduit as the need for U.S. infrastructure improvements became apparent during pandemic lockdowns. Almost overnight, homeowners, schools, businesses and government agencies turned to remote learning and working.
Bulldog Pipe is promoted as the only veteran-owned PE pipe manufacturer providing solutions and products for America's demanding infrastructure needs.
However, the growth at Bulldog Pipe is mostly related to the staff sourcing quality material and only taking orders that can be produced and delivered on time, according to McIntosh.
"We have a number of partners that want to expand their business with us and others that want to start to do business with us, and that's the demand driving this second plant," McIntosh said. "Before our recent expansions, we turned down significant volumes and continue to only take on new customers as we have capacity. We understand this is a different approach. We call it the Bulldog Pipe difference. We choose to under promise and over deliver."
To boost capacity, Bulldog Pipe is leasing a 60,000-square-foot building in Aberdeen that has been shuttered for seven years. The company currently is investing $2.7 million into the site, mostly for extrusion equipment. Another $4 million will be invested through 2023, McIntosh said.
Bulldog Pipe officials expect to initially create 26 new full-time jobs in Aberdeen with an average annual wage of $50,675 for the first year.
McIntosh doesn't foresee labor issues. He pointed to hiring enticements, such as monthly profit-sharing bonuses, a holiday bonus, paid insurance and paid gym membership, as well as a management mission "to do the best we can" by employees.
"Our entire team, including those in leadership, work hard and work together," McIntosh said. "That kind of reputation gets around in our communities and appeals to employees looking to be valued members of a team. The leadership is in the plant installing lines and working on upgrades alongside the production team. The production floor is where it all happens, and our team members see us there."
Bulldog Pipe currently has 31 full-time employees at the Missouri facility.
For the North Carolina plant, the company is hiring supervisors, maintenance personnel and production operators. The company expects to grow to 55 full-time employees in Aberdeen, according to a news release from Moore County Partners in Progress Economic Development.