Certificate of special recognition          FRE Composites USA Day

Less than two weeks from the start of regular production, FRE Composites President Benoit Arsenault looked relaxed Wednesday as he demonstrated a machine that spins fiberglass strands into electrical conduit. The Montreal, Canada, businessman credited his calm to the small band of workers assembled to open and run the company's first U.S. plant, a small operation on the city's South Side. "I think we're doing great. We've been able to put together an extremely talented group of people," said Arsenault, a frequent traveler to Pueblo since work on the project began in February. On Tuesday, the new plant hosted a grand opening luncheon and tour to showcase its refurbishment of the former Colorado Truss plant at 60 Greenhorn Drive, on the frontage road along Interstate 25 South. By the end of next week, the plant will begin regular production of FRE Composite's fiberglass electrical conduit systems that include conduit, elbows and fittings. The plant will open with 10 workers and expand to 30 employees after the remaining two of three large production machines arrive. The company sells the conduit in Canada and the U.S.

FRE Composites, based in Montreal, learned of Pueblo while shopping for a U.S. expansion site. An incentive package put together by the city and Pueblo Economic Development Corp. sealed the move. Also a factor: Rod Mooers, a relative newcomer to Pueblo, with knowledge of the company, suggested the firm consider the city. Mooers is now the Pueblo plant manager. Mooers also praised the Pueblo plant's new workforce. "The group of guys we've got, they're awesome. They've taken ownership. They've worked weekends and nights. They want to do this project," he said. Arsenault, a French Canadian who speaks French and English, said the expansion will put the firm closer to its clients in the West and South and also curb rising transportation costs from Canada. He's visited Pueblo on several occasions since work on readying the plant began in February, he said. "It's a great city. . . . The hospitality is something. You can feel it," Arsenault said. About two dozen Pueblo civic and businesses leaders attended the grand opening luncheon.

Dan Centa, president of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., saluted FRE Composite's efforts to get the plant up and running, starting with the extensive refurbishment needed of the old truss plant. "There's a quality of a company you can just sense and FRE is a quality company," Centa said. Centa also noted the efforts of longtime commercial property broker Dan Molello, who represented the building's former owner and negotiated a discounted sale price in order to aid the jobs-creation effort. Pueblo City Council President Ray Aguilera said Pueblo welcomes the new jobs. "During these difficult times, 30 jobs may not be a lot but for Pueblo it's a good deal," Aguilera said. FRE Composites will produce 10- and 20-foot-long sections, along with parts such as elbows and fittings, at the Pueblo plant. © 2012 Pueblo Chieftain. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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