Calif. tank manufacturer picks Sulphur Springs for expansion

EDC incentives, business climate helped bring Raine Tank to area

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

May 16, 2007 - Roger Feagley has good reason to remember a meeting with Fred Raine in the spring of 2005.

Staff Photo by Angela Pitts

Fred Raine (middle), wife Gina (second from left) and youngest child Tori, 3, met with EDC Director Roger Feagley (second from right), AgriLand Farm Credit Services Vice President Mandy Freeman (far right) and Rafter P. Construction general contractor Brad Pryor (left) Tuesday afternoon to discuss plans for Raine's new business coming to Sulphur Springs.

"It was the first company I talked to when I came here," recalled Feagley, who had just taken over as executive vice president of the Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation when he met with the owner of Raine Tank and Fabrication in King City, Calif.

Fred Raine was expanding his company, and he was hoping the EDC's spec building just west of Sulphur Springs on the north side of Interstate 30 would do the trick. It didn't, but that's just the beginning of the story.

"The spec building was what they came to look at, but they wanted a long, skinny building, so I said, 'Why don't you build right here?'"

"Here" was a 10-acre plot of wide open space next to the spec building, and on Tuesday, Raine, his wife, Gina, their daughter, Tori, 3, and others were in the field talking about the new industry that should be up and running in a matter of months and bring at least 25 new jobs to the area.

Fred Raine may not have been born in Texas, but you wouldn't know it. He's a big, gregarious bear of a guy with a handshake you can trust, the kind of fellow who's quick to crack a joke and never met a stranger. The only reason he was late for Tuesday's announcement was because he wanted to make one more round on the hay baler on his land in Sulphur Bluff.

His company's specialty is containment tanks of all types — fuel, oil, water, you name it. Their biggest project was a one million gallon tank. (For comparison purposes, the water tower at Coleman Park holds one million gallons.)

But they also build trailers, service cranes and can do any manner of metal work.

"There's basically nothing we can't do," said Raine (pronounced (rA-NEE"), who said his company will continue its operations in California in addition to the plant in Hopkins County. Additionally, most of the initial production here will be for customers in California.

There are a number of reasons Sulphur Springs made sense for expansion. 

Fred and Gina were lured to the area two years ago when they expanded their cattle operation. (Raine says they run about 1,300 head of cattle in Northeast Texas.) They liked the people and the community so much they decided to make their home in Sulphur Bluff with their three children, Caleb, 13, Tyler, 11, and Tori, 3.

Supply was another reason.

"We're also close to a lot of steel mills," Raine said.

He's also found a helpful lender in Agriland Farm Credit, who had a representative, Mandy Freeman, on hand for the announcement.

"They are a great financial institution," Raine said.

But perhaps the biggest factor is the cost of doing business in Texas compared to California. When asked if he had considered expanding in California, his answer was to the point.

"Could I? Yes. Would it have been cost-effective? No."

He said the difference in land prices, labor costs and other factors have made it tough to do business in The Golden State.

"The price of property, fuel, human resources, everything is so much higher," he said.

The incentives offered by the EDC didn't hurt, either.

"They made us an offer we couldn't pass up," Raine said.

The EDC is selling the 10 acres for the same price the corporation paid the Hopkins County Industrial Foundation.

If Raine employs 25 people for five years, the EDC will refund the price of the land on the contingency that he maintain those 25 jobs for at least five more years.

There's also the chance that Raine could buy an adjacent10 acres for expansion in the future, if need

The EDC will also pay Raine $1,000 per employee hired.

"If they employ 25, we'll give them $25,000," Feagley said. "If they employ 24, we give them nothing. If they employ 50, we give them $50,000.

"And we'd love to write a big check," Feagley added with a smile.

Raine will construct two buildings, one 24,000 square feet, the other 2,400 square feet. Rafter P Construction, headed by Brad Pryor, will serve as the general contractor. Estimated completion date is about 120 days after work begins.

Raine plans for production to begin pretty soon after the last beam is welded — he said he's already relocated his office manager to the area.

Expect the company to issue a call for resumés from welders and other metal workers in about a month.

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