New business proposed for industrial park

OKEECHOBEE — A Miami-based company may expand into the Okeechobee Industrial Park.

At the Sept. 13 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, Juan Geymonat, of Institutional Products Inc. (IPI) presented a plan for leasing and eventually purchasing the building previously occupied by Advance Stone in the Okeechobee Industrial Park.

The county has ownership of several buildings in the Industrial Park which were acquired from default issues of previous tenants. According to the staff report, the building located at 2455 N.W. 16th Blvd. has had challenges in getting new tenants due to numerous obstacles which include cost associated to configure the building to accommodate tenant needs, the size and ingress/egress to the property and building.

Mr. Geymonat said IPI is currently based in Miami-Dad County with their main facility in Homestead. He said they want to expand with a second facility in the center of the state and Okeechobee County is ideally located.

“The market is there. Being in Okeechobee would allow us to create another line of business. Orlando is one of the fastest growing areas in the country,” he said.

He said in the first phase, the business would employ 15 to 20 people. The site at the industrial park would allow for future expansion. He said the starting salary at the current plant is $11 an hour, with some skilled positions paying up to $30 an hour.

He said they will provide training for the employees.

“It’s not a factory. It’s not an assembly line,” he said.

The jobs would include the operation of machinery, light assembly and packaging, he explained.

These “jobs can be done by almost anyone who wants to work,” Mr. Geymonat said.

County Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs suggested Mr. Geymonat contact Indian River State College for help with training employees.

He said the county wants to encourage vocational education.

“When they come out of vocational training at the high school we would like for them to have a job right here,” said Chairman Burroughs.

According to the staff report, Institutional Products, Inc. (IPI), was incorporated in 1977 in Homestead, Fla. IPI provides quality casework cabinets mainly to the educational field. They are the leading provider of cabinets and counter tops for elementary, middle and high schools for Miami-Dade County, one of the premier manufacturers for Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties and for the past 17 years provided products to Atlanta Public Schools (APS) in partnership with Mark Products in Georgia. Their production has expanded from schools to municipal buildings such as fire stations, police stations, courthouses, federal buildings, U.S. Military bases, airports as well as incorporation of a woodworking division of high end commercial and residential products. At their facility in Miami-Dade, they employ 45 full-time employees and provide work for about another 30 people who are sub-contractors for installation, deliveries and drafting services. They currently operate in a 39,000 square foot facility in Homestead and have a showroom in downtown Miami.

The commissioners agreed with the concept of the plan and asked Mr. Geymonat and Kathy Scott, who manages the industrial park, to come back to a future meeting with a contract.

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