Why I’m Investing in Carbon and Emery Counties

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Intermountain Electronic

By John Houston, Founder of Intermountain Electronics

Nearly ten years ago, I made a comment to the leadership team at Intermountain Electronics (IE) that seems laughable now. For context, in 2013, our core coal markets had been down for three years in a row, and the boom in precious and base metals was coming to an end. Meanwhile, our sales activity in oil and gas equipment – a new market for us – was booming in North Dakota. As we looked at these trends, I told the team, “I’ll never invest another dime in Carbon County.”

Well, I was wrong. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

I grew up working in a family business that my parents ran on Main Street. When I founded IE in 1985, I figured it too could provide a reasonable living for my family. Thanks to the many contributions of hundreds of IE employees in this community, it has grown into something much more than that.

I founded IE with the idea of providing the best service to local mines – repairing sophisticated electrical components to keep these mines running safely and efficiently. I had the good fortune to base IE here, where we have been blessed with talented and committed employees from both Carbon and Emery counties, who have consistently overdelivered for our customers, fueling our growth at every turn. Their strong contributions provided the foundation for us to open additional factories in Ohio, Illinois and Denver to service local customers there.

Unfortunately, coal mining hasn’t fully recovered since 2013, and it never will. When oil and gas markets also weakened in 2016, our team found success in renewable energy and data center markets. With that came opportunities to support large customer programs in California, Washington and elsewhere in the West, where our Price factory is ideally positioned. By 2019, we needed to decide between expanding our headquarters in Price or building a large new factory in Denver. And while Price’s proximity to these new markets was important, it wasn’t the leading or even the second factor. In fact, it was third.

The primary reason we chose to invest here is because this is where we felt we could build the strongest team. We always assumed it would be easier to grow our workforce in a large labor pool like Denver, but we have found the opposite. We have benefited from the Carbon and Emery county work ethic and “can do” attitudes our employees bring every day. We have developed relationships with local schools and business partners alike who collaborate with us in supporting our talent and supply chain needs. As we double our factory footprint here, we have committed to create another 200 jobs by 2030 on top of the 200 we already have, and we are confident this is the best place for us to find and build that talent.

The second factor is the commitment we have received from Carbon County and the state of Utah. Carbon County Commissioner Larry Jensen, Senator David Hinkins and many others all collaborated on behalf of IE to help us overcome some hurdles to keep the expansion in Utah. Additionally, the Utah Office of Economic Development team, Congressman John Curtis, Senator Mitt Romney and Governor Gary Herbert all demonstrated their underlying commitment to creating high-quality, rural jobs. All of this has enabled us to build our new factory quickly despite the challenges of COVID over the past two years.

In short, Carbon and Emery counties have been at the heart of our growth for the last 30 years. And we now hope to be at the heart of the growth in Carbon and Emery counties for the next 30 years. That is why the Houston Family is investing here.

We express our deep gratitude to the community for making this possible. Thank you.

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