Schweitzer Engineering Labs announced Monday it is opening three new international offices and adding 59 jobs - 55 of them in Pullman.
“There are cities all over the country that would be delighted to have a clean, high-tech company like this,” said Pullman Chamber of Commerce President Jan Koal at an afternoon press conference. “This is really quite a privilege we have.”
The rapidly growing manufacturer of protective relays for the power industry can hardly hire fast enough to keep up with demand.
“The time line is now. The need is immediate, ” said CEO Edmund O. Schweitzer III when asked when workers would be hired. “We’ve got all kinds of engineering development, and we’re champing at the bit to do it.”
The jobs require a range of experience, though most are in the engineering fields.
The announcement comes hardly a year after Schweitzer completed its fourth building in the Port of Whitman County Industrial Park at the north edge of Pullman.
Business has skyrocketed from $6 million in sales in 1989 with just 48 employees, to $36.5 million in 1997 with 240 people and a projected $44 million in sales in 1998.
Perhaps anticipating Schweitzer’s success, developers have built duplexes and manufactured homes north and east of the company’s campus, and two new Pullman subdivisions are in the proposal stages. “For Rent,” and “Open House” signs are testimony to the city’s apartment vacancy rate - the highest in years.
“We’re delighted to be growing in Pullman near two great universities,” Schweitzer said.
Washington State University officials are pleased, too. Schweitzer sponsors WSU professorships and builds student resumes with internships and summer jobs. Plus, every Schweitzer employee is given an $80-per-month educational stipend for furthering higher education and training.
“They’re getting bigger, getting better and doing all the things you hope will happen in a community,” WSU President Sam Smith said.
A former WSU electrical engineering student and professor, Edmund Schweitzer engineered the company’s first products back in 1982. The digital relays help utilities detect and troubleshoot problems such as lightning strikes or power surges on their power lines. If the electricity goes out, it’s likely that Schweitzer’s products are helping the power company shed light on why.
Schweitzer sells the protection and detection devices to private companies and governments worldwide.
While most of the new jobs will be in Pullman, the company will open one-person field application offices in China, Mexico and the United Kingdom as well.
“We really want to be technically and commercially close to where our customers are and since they are all over the world, that’s a challenge,” Schweitzer said.
The most recent growth has come with new innovations in the digital protection of automated power systems, Schweitzer said.
“Stay tuned for building plans,” he added.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WORLD VIEW The company also will open field offices in China, Mexico and the United Kingdom.