City, county officials tour manufacturing plant

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 8, 2007

County officials praised the quality of work and efficiency at aLincoln County manufacturing plant after touring Primos HuntingCalls Thursday.

“It looks like you’re putting out a quality product that sellswell,” District Two Supervisor Bobby J. Watts told companyrepresentatives following the tour.

County supervisors and other officials were impressed with thelevel of technology employed by the plant in its production ofhunting calls and other outdoor products.

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“The days of an old man sitting in a chair whittling on a blockof wood to make a hunting call are long gone,” said Jimmy Primos,chief operating officer for Primos Hunting Calls. “It’s highlytechnical now.”

The company now uses Computer Numerically Controlled, or CNC,software and high-definition cutting and engraving lasers toproduce its hunting calls and other products. The equipment ensureseach product is exactly the same, said Anthony Foster, vicepresident of the CNC production department.

Primos said the tour was “to familiarize the board with what wehave down here. We feel like it’s something unique for the countythat can point out to other prospective industries.”

He said Primos Hunting Calls is proof that a highly technicalindustry can locate in the backwoods of a rural county and still besuccessful. The Primos plant is located near the Lincoln-Lawrencecounty line on Townsend Road.

Despite its location, Primos said, the company has a nationaldistribution with products in leading sporting goods and retailstores and draws employees from as far away as Jackson.

The company has proven so successful, he said, that not only didit expand its operations in 2006, but it is planning a $500,000expansion for the second quarter of 2008.

“That’s kind of between our spring and fall seasons. It’s theonly time we have to do it,” Primos said, citing lessened demandfor its products outside of hunting seasons.

The 2008 expansion will add more computerized equipment,increase the size of the plant and improve on working conditionswithin the plant, he said.

Although the company is adding more computerized equipment,Foster said that did not mean fewer jobs. The company hopes topromote existing employees to better-paying positions with the newequipment and hire others to fill the vacant positions.

Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, said the company’sgood treatment of its employees is well known.

“You walk in here year after year and you see the same people.You don’t see that at a lot of manufacturing plants,” he said.

Foster said that’s why property tax exemptions are so importantto companies. It allows them to use that money to expand itsoperations and provide more jobs.

He said Primos Hunting Calls will likely request a tax exemptionon the expansion when they are ready to proceed. The tax exemptionwould only apply to new property and structures.

Officials did not comment on the proposed tax exemption request,but it was well received.

“We certainly received a warm welcome and I enjoyed it,” saidTax Assessor/Collector Nancy Jordan. “We want you here as long asyou want to stay here.”