County industrial park attracts two new businesses

OKEECHOBEE — Powerlift Doors of Florida and Industrial Products Inc. will soon open facilities in Okeechobee County.

The Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners approved contracts for two new tenants at the Okeechobee County Industrial Park at their Oct. 23 meeting at the Okeechobee County Health Department.

Powerlift Doors of Florida will lease a building and lots 16 and 17 at 2570 N.W. 16th Blvd. in the Okeechobee County Airport Commerce Park. The building was formerly housed Wolley’s Sheds.

Powerlift Doors builds and installs hydraulic door systems and moving wall systems.

Company owner Lynn Shepard said the average salary per hour for employees will be $18 to $20 an hour. Some more experienced people may make up to $25 an hour, he added. The business will employ eight to ten people to start.

“We don’t have a lot of people,” he explained. “The reason we need a big place is because we build big things.”

The county agreed to waive rent for the first four months, with the expectation that most of that time will be needed for repairs and refurbishment of the building, which has been vacant for years.

The county also agreed to allow the renter to count up to $250,000 total in building repairs toward a percentage of the rent.

Annual rent will be $76,429. The repairs and upgrades to the building will become the property of Okeechobee County.

Mr. Shepard noted the building does not currently have a certificate of occupancy (CO) and that a lot of repairs are needed before he can open for business there. He said most of that first four months will be needed for repairs.

When rent payment starts on the fifth month, 75 percent of the rent payment will go to the building repairs.

Mr. Shepard agreed to work with the fire chief to make sure the business and all operating procedures meet fire codes.

He also agreed to keep the grass cut and to install and maintain landscaping in front of the business.

“I would think you would like to keep it up just based on the fact that it will attract business to you,” said Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs.

In other business, the commissioners voted to sell the building at 2455 N.W. 16th Blvd. to Institutional Products Inc. (IPI) for $217,000, and to lease three lots for $12,000 per year, on a 30-year renewable lease to IPI. IPI makes specialty products for the construction industry such as cabinetry for schools.

The building, which formerly housed Advanced Stone, was appraised at $217,000. It was built in 1998.

Another company, NexAir, also bid on the request for proposals, offering $250,000 for the building and $16,273 in annual rent for the lots. NexAir already has a location in the Okeechobee County Industrial Park, adjacent to the Advanced Stone building. NexAir, which currently has 53 employees at its Okeechobee location, has been in Okeechobee County since 2016, NexAir, LLC is a supplier of industrial, specialty, medical, and bulk gases, welding equipment, welding supplies and medical equipment.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said NexAir is a good company and has been a good tenant, but noted the building has been vacant for years. The county advertised for requests for proposals because IPI expressed interest in buying the building.

“IPI spent the time to come in and investigate the property,” said Commissioner Bryant Culpepper. “My concern is that building has been empty for five years. IPI needs the space available in that building. Some of those machines can be 18 to 20 ft. tall.”

Juan Geymonat, of IPI, said his business is doing well in Miami. He said the Okeechobee location will be an expansion.

“I was looking for something more centrally located,” he said. “I was looking at a couple of the towns south of the lake.”

He explained he was invited to visit Okeechobee “and I really liked what I saw.’

“I understood that property was sitting there for a long time,” he said, noting that NexAir knew that property was sitting vacant.

The building is there, “ready for us do something very quickly,” he continued. “It has the high ceilings we need.”

Mr. Geymonat said the business will be concealed within the walls of the building.

“We don’t use outdoor storage,” he said. “Our business is very clean.”

He said they hope to continue to expand the business to serve all of Florida and Georgia.

He said in the first year, they expect to employ about 15 people. Pay will range from $11.50 to $30 and hour.

“We will hire and train as many people as we can from Okeechobee County,” he explained.

The commissioners voted to accept the offer from IPI with Commissioner David Hazellief casting the sole dissenting vote.

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