EPHRATA - Wind tower manufacturer Katana Summit is hiring 75 workers to complete a project for the German company Nordex.
"We're finally starting back up," Katana plant manager Bob Bainsky said Monday. "We haven't had work in almost a year. We just landed a job, a pretty nice little job, that will keep us busy for three or four months."
Katana rehired most of its former workers it let go last year during a market downturn.
"We're very grateful for the response we got," Bainsky said.
He said Katana is hoping to have another new job behind it.
Katana's biggest competition in the past year has been in the Asian market, as imports have taken over many businesses, Bainsky said.
Before Nordex contacted Katana, Katana was close to shutting down and only had about six employees remaining, Bainsky explained.
Katana was not going to be sold, he said.
Nordex, Katana's new client, ordered 18 new wind towers from the Ephrata company.
Nordex makes a generator called the nacelle that sits on top of the wind towers.
The employees brought back on at Katana were hired in the welding, internal handling, internal assembly, painting and blasting areas.
Bainsky said they had a good startup and things were going well.
A number of companies could approach them for jobs later this year, he said.
Port of Ephrata Manager Mike Wren said he is seeing more activity, as it has been quiet for a year.
"In fact, they're bringing in steel on the rail," he commented. "There's more activity at the port. That's good."
Katana doesn't have the same startup battles because so many of the workers were previously employed by the company.
"They've either found work to fill in the gap or have been out of work for a long time," he said of employees.