Chamber names AITX ‘Industry of the Year’

Published 1:21 pm Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce named AITX as its Industry of the Year during its recent awards banquet.

“It was my honor to be selected to receive the Industry of the Year award on behalf of AITX from the Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber,” said John Ward, AITX senior vice president, repair services. “AITX has had an operation in Brookhaven since we opened there in 2014 [and] … both the city and county have been very supportive during that period.

“AITX is very proud of our plant and the excellent working relationship with the community, county and state. There are so many great industries in the area and we appreciate being a part of such an outstanding group.”

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AITX services and maintains (repairs) railroad rail cars. The Brookhaven facility – strategically located on the CN RR – services numerous customers in the Gulf Coast region.

AITX built its existing plant in 2014 and is in the process of expanding north on the old Keystone property. The expansion is an additional investment by AITX of $30 million dollars that will result in more than 100 new jobs. Altogether, the existing and expanded AITX Brookhaven plant will have roughly $40 million in total investment and will employ somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 total employees by 2023.

“We are very pleased to have AITX in our community and we are proud of the fact that they chose to expand their facility in the Brookhaven Industrial Park,” chamber Executive Director Garrick Combs said after AITX announced its expansion some weeks ago. “AITX’s expansion will offer the people of their region opportunities for a great career with a great company.”

The second most recent project AITX conducted involved a section of road under the overpass that dead-ended at the plant and longer served any real purpose. AITX sought and received permission to declare the closed and abandoned route private in order to allow installation of a new security fence around the entire perimeter of the property – both the existing property and the new old Keystone property – to improve the general aesthetics of the area.

“AITX views Brookhaven as a key location to expand our footprint as the preferred rail car maintenance provider in the Gulf Coast region and we enjoy the partnership we have had with all local leaders,” Ward added. “The chamber’s Garrick Combs, Mayor Joe Cox and the city, and Supervisor Eddie Brown and the entire [supervisors’] board have all been integral to helping AITX move expansion forward.

“Brookhaven and Lincoln County are very blessed to have outstanding leadership… the type that will foster a long-term relationship with any industry, either existing or part of future growth in Brookhaven/Lincoln County.”

Ward said from a personal view, he and his family loved living in Franklin County and all the benefits of living in the “real country.”

“Brookhaven was always our go to place to spend our money on essentials and entertainment,” he explained. “I also fell in love with Brookhaven almost immediately and have so many great memories here over the many years – shopping, movies, dinners, bowling, softball leagues, and so on.”

Ward moved his family to Franklin County back in 1981 while he worked at the AITX Bude plant. After some 27 years total with the company, he received a promotion and moved back to AITX headquarters in St Charles, Mo., afterward.

However, he still thinks a lot of this area. “The folks have always been so warm and welcoming, and this part of the world will always be my home,” he said.