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Dakomax to open Hazelton plant by end of year in Prairie Village

Posted 11/09/10 (Tue)

They will be producing light-weight body armor for law enforcement and military use.
A software engineer, Tom McClure, who hails from Louisiana, was interested in reducing the weight of body gear that our soldiers have to carry in combat. He has invented an advanced type of body armor that is half the weight of other body armors now on the market. Body armors typically weigh about 30 to 35 pounds, making it especially cumbersome in hot, humid climates.
The McClures had been considering relocating further north when recent media attention that focused on Hazelton got their attention. McClure said a newspaper article they read peaked their interest. They contacted HDC President Bev Voller and then made a visit to Hazelton.
HDC, meanwhile, had been working with an Underwood-based company, Building Innovations, which specializes in helping communities and regions identify industry sectors best suited for targeted recruitment and development efforts. BI has been working as a recruiter for HDC.
Building Innovations President Zachary Hedstrom and the company’s vice president, Terry Stevhan, have formed a partnership with the McClures in the newly formed company, Dakomax Advanced Manufacturing.
Along with determining the most feasible site to locate, they have purchased equipment—including an industrial press to manufacture the body armor—from the recently closed Bobcat plant in Bismarck.
There were a couple options for a site to locate the new manufacturing business. The first option was the property located on U.S. Highway 83 just north of the Hazelton Farmers Union Oil Co., which would mean trying to get a building up and ready before winter sets in. The second option was to move into the Prairie Village Business Center’s manufacturing area which would need some modification to accommodate the size of the press but might make it possible to begin production by early December.
McClure has been outsourcing production of the body armor, but once the press is moved in and ready to go, he said all products will be produced in Hazelton.
HDC owns Prairie Village Business Center which is occupied by a community-owned grocery store, Main St. Market, as well as Tammy’s Salon and Shear Brilliance and the Hazelton Coffee Shop. The south part of the mall, designed for manufacturing, has been empty since Dakota Woolen Mills closed in July 2006.
A community meeting was held on Tuesday, October 26, at the Hazelton Community Center to move forward with the next step for Dakomax Advanced Manufacturing of Hazelton. The meeting was conducted by HDC President Bev Voller, with the agenda to discuss locating the manufacturing facility in the downtown Prairie Village Business Center.
After exploring what options were available within Hazelton, it was determined that the manufacturing spaces located within the business center are the best option. The facility has up to 6,000 sq. ft. available.
Dakomax Advanced Manufacturing is proposing to lease the manufacturing space for 3-5 years with an option to purchase the Prairie Village Business Center for a price equal to the remaining debt on the building after the lease expires.
Some modifications will need to be made to the building to accommodate the industrial press which is needed in the manufacturing process.
Community members in attendance voiced support of the proposal and are excited for the new business development in Hazelton.
Dakomax hopes to employ six to nine people within the first year.
The existing businesses within the Prairie Village Business Center are all expected to remain in the building.

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