Peak Demand CEO Jon Rennie, left, discusses products Tuesday with Senior Engineer Director Rodolfo Elizondo in the company’s current headquarters located in the Upper Coastal Plain Business Development Center downtown.
Brie Handgraaf | Times
By Brie Handgraaf
Times Staff Writer
An electrical manufacturing startup announced Tuesday the decision to invest millions in Wilson with a new factory that will make products for distribution throughout the Americas.
“We are excited to make Wilson our home,” said Jon Rennie, president and CEO of Peak Demand. “We are a team of industry veterans with a mission to revolutionize customer service in the electric utility products market. Our online tools and quick-ship processes are helping customers respond quicker to the critical demands of the electrical grid.
“In Wilson and in North Carolina, we have found a community that understands the importance of business growth and the unique needs of manufacturers. We look forward to a long, successful history here.”
Peak Demand, which is part of China-based manufacturer Nanjing Zhida Electric Co., currently has a staff of nine in the Upper Coastal Plain Business Development Center in downtown Wilson. Peak Demand says its focus is on high-quality products and customer service.
“When power lines are down, electric providers need our products right away and we pride ourselves in revolutionizing the way people get our products,” Rennie said. “We’re in an industry that still uses faxes for purchase orders, but people are accustomed to ordering through sites like Amazon where you pick out your product and purchase it, then get updates for the order processing and shipping.
“We’re bringing that level of customer support to an industry that really needs it. We’re revolutionizing the way people purchase transmission and distribution electrical products.”
While the incubator was ideal for building the company’s foundation, manufacturing facilities are needed to make its focus a reality. To that end, Peak Demand was awarded a One North Carolina Fund grant of up to $100,000 from the state as well as $45,000 total from Wilson city and county government as incentives to plant its roots locally.
Jennifer Lantz, executive director of the Wilson Economic Development Council, said the incubator helped Peak Demand become a part of the community and Rennie said it was invaluable resource for the company.
“We’ve come to really love Wilson. We’ve come to get to know the community and meet a lot of people in Wilson,” Rennie said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better place to start a business. Everyone who has heard our story has been willing to step up and help us.”
Rather than building a manufacturing plant from scratch, Rennie called upon his New Hampshire roots and has set out to breathe new life into a former manufacturing facility. He recalled how the shuttered textile mills lining the river in his hometown have been renovated and reused by high-tech companies. Lantz celebrated Rennie’s passion for revitalization.
“Not all companies can look at an older factory and see the potential, but in this case, we showed the company to a renovation project already done by a developer so they could see what an old space could look like.,” she said. “We’re very excited they chose our community and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Rennie said Peak Demand hopes to have a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility open by January with a goal of 37 employees within three years. Positions will range from manufacturing operators to executives with an average salary of $65,714 a year — nearly $15,000 more than the county’s current average annual wage.
“North Carolina’s business climate, talent and quality of life continue to attract companies from around the world,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a press release. “Peak Demand builds on an exceptional pool of engineering talent in the power equipment industry and ready access to U.S. and international markets.”
Officials said other locations, including Virginia, were considered for the company’s first manufacturing plant in the country, but Rennie said Wilson quickly rose to the top as the perfect site for development.
“There are 3,500 utilities in the United States and that will be our customer base,” he said. “What is interesting is that we’ll supply all of North America from here, but also South America and Central America all from our headquarters here in Wilson.”
For more information about Peak Demand, go to http://peakdemand.com/.
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