When the first vehicles roll off the assembly
line at the Nissan plant in Canton it will be with a little
help from North Mississippi Conveyor.
The Oxford-based company is building inventory
control systems (or conveyors) and surface preparation
tanks for a Nissan supplier, Systems Electro-Coating LLC.
SEC will supply products directly to Nissan from its facility,
which is located just south of the new 1,400-acre Nissan
The conveyors and tanks will be used in
the painting and curing of automobile frames at the SEC
While the bid process started in the late
spring of 2001, it was not until January 2002 that NMC
was awarded the multimillion-dollar contract. The local
company started primary fabrication of the systems in
June. NMC will start installing the tanks and conveyors
in October with substantial completion at the SEC plant
by May 2003.
So, for the next six months to eight months,
the business at NMC will be centered around the SEC project.
"This is really a significant impact
on our next eight months for sure," said Darrick
Vanderford, NMC president. "The SEC project will
require most of our resources. We will be hiring 10 to
15 more employees for the fabrication and installation
of the systems. The bulk of the fabrication employees
will come from Lafayette and Yalobusha counties."
The 15 stainless steel tanks being built
by NMC are 11-feet wide, 16-feet tall and 30-feet long,
and weigh approximately 40,000 pounds each. When the tanks
are completed and installed in the SEC plant, a
hoist will deliver a pallet (holding six frames) to each
tank along the route. These pallets will be lowered into
the specific tank where the frames will be prepared, painted
The 16 conveyors being built by NMC will
move the pallets across the plant floor from the beginning
and ending of the process when the frames are not on the
hoist. At the end, the conveyors will deposit the painted
frames to a loading area where they will then be transported
to the Nissan plant. Once they arrive at the Nissan plant,
the assembly of the vehicles will begin. The SEC plant
will prepare 72 frames per hour.
The fabrication of the tanks is 60 percent
completed, according to Vanderford. However, the creation
of the conveyors has just started. For the next five to
six months, employees at NMC will be working two separate
10-hour shifts a day to finish the SEC project while also
working on projects for clients in Georgia and Kentucky.
But even after the tanks and conveyors
are finished, Vanderford sees a continuing relationship
"We anticipate an extended working
relationship with SEC after the installation is complete,"
he said. "There are often minor changes on this type
of equipment with repairs and small changes. We often
maintain and inspect equipment such as this.
"But even after the contract is completed
we will have a significant amount of work ongoing with
not only SEC but also Tier I and Tier II suppliers whose
installers might not be as close as we are. One advantage
or one selling point (for us) is the proximity to the
Nissan announced in November 2000 it would
locate its newest North American assembly plant in Canton
at a $930 million facility. With the June 2002 announcement
of a $500 million expansion to produce the Altima sedan
in Canton, the total size of the plant grew to approximately
3.5 million square feet.
The Canton Nissan facility will build
full-size pickup trucks, full-size sport utility vehicles
for the Nissan and Inifiniti lines, and the next generation
Nissan Quest minivan. Production of the first vehicle
is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2003 and production
of the Altima is planned to begin in Canton in the spring
The plant will produce approximately 400,000
vehicles annually and create 16,212 direct and indirect
jobs by the year 2005, according to a study conducted
by the Goodman Group at the University of Southern Mississippi.
"The initial phase of Nissan didn't
have much impact upon smaller companies," Vanderford
said. "The impact on the local economy will come
from systems to Tier I and Tier II suppliers."
For a company started by Darrick's father,
John, in his garage in April 1982, the Nissan plant and
the possible arrival of a Toyota plant near Como bodes
well for NMC's future.
"It is going very well," Vanderford
said. "I don't think (my father) ever thought it
would become what it has today."