Jan 18, 2011 6:55 PM by David Ortiviz
2010 was a good year for the wind tower manufacturing company Vestas, which is based in Denmark and has a factory in Pueblo. Vestas received 15 orders from the United States and Canada last year. This marks its best sales performance in North America, since it entered the market in 1981.
"I can't really talk to the dollars of sales because I don't know those numbers, but for us though it means the strategies we had with bringing our factories into North America and being closer to our customer base has really panned out," said Tony Knopp, Vice President of Vestas Towers of North America.
Vestas has manufacturing plants in Pueblo, Windsor and Brighton, Colorado. A fourth plant is currently under construction in Windsor. A spokesperson for Vestas say that plant will create about 600 jobs for Colorado in the future.
The factory in Pueblo currently employs about 436 workers. Knopp says they're in the process of hiring a few more workers at that facility. "We feel here in Pueblo that we're pretty much where we need to be, we have about another 15 jobs to hire, but then we'll level out," said Knopp.
Despite a record sales year, the company can do better. Right now, the Pueblo plant is operating at about 60% production. "We're not at full capacity so we definitely can continue to grow," said Knopp.
With growth comes concerns over safety. A subcontractor was killed on the job last October and another employee was seriously hurt weeks later. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is still looking into the company's safety practices. "Safety is number one, it's is our first concern and it will never be jeopardized," said Knopp.
Knopp says the company kicked off a new safety awareness program at the first of the year and has spent $2 million training its workforce. "So we have very good programs and it's a matter of developing our culture" said Knopp.
When Vestas first came to Pueblo, the company pledged to hire about 450 workers within 3 years. By the end of this year, they should reach that goal. Vestas also made an agreement with the City of Pueblo to keep those workers on the payroll for at least 7 years.