Summit Fire relocates

Thursday, June 1, 2006

ST. PAUL, Minn.--Summit Fire Protection's move to a new location is not your standard company relocation: It's part of an economic development project designed to be a good deal for Summit, the City of St. Paul, local residents and the environment.
A sprinkler company with 2005 sales of $47 million, and $55 million projected for 2006, Summit, "has been on a tremendous growth pattern," said Quintin Rubald, president and chief executive officer.
Rubald broke ground, June 1, on a 4.5-acre parcel, part of a 38-acre business park that was originally the home of a steel factory, but in recent years was merely an eyesore-- an uninhabitable, contaminated brownfield in an economically depressed section of the city.
Using mostly state and local grants, the Port Authority of the City of St. Paul, an independent economic development agency, bought, decontaminated and developed the land into a business park. Rubald's parcel was the last available spot in the park.
As an incentive, the Port Authority sells the parcels to companies like Summit for $1. In return, Rubald agreed to hire 60 people at a minimum wage of $10.95 per hour, and to make every effort to hire individuals who live in the surrounding community. After 10 years, Summit will own the land free and clear.
This is the 18th brownfield rehabbed by the group in the last 20 years. Without their efforts, the sites would not likely be developed because private sector developers are not attracted to these sites, which in addition to being polluted, typically lack access to utilities and highways, noted Bill Morin, director of real estate for the Port Authority.
The Port Authority program helps "increases the tax base, brings good-paying jobs to local residents and the buildings that are put up are held to a high standard from an architectural standpoint," Morin said.
Rubald will consolidate three St. Paul area offices into a new 55,000-square-foot facility here. Summit grew from seven to 300 employees in seven years, so Rubald does not anticipate any problems hiring 60 people over the next 10. And Summit's average wage, he said is "somewhere north of $24 per hour."
Summit is "heavily into engineering," with three fire protection engineers and 30 designers on staff. General contractors appreciate Summit's ability to "be specialized ... cost effective, meet code and pass inspections," he said.
Rubald's "bread and butter" is in commercial and residential jobs in the states of Minneapolis, Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota. But he also has a special 30-employee "in-rack division" that does domestic and international installations, particularly in the Far East and South America.
Summit also has three satellite offices in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minn., and Iowa City, Iowa. Rubald expects to move into the new St. Paul office in November.