Spokane Journal of Business

Schweitzer Engineering expands in Pullman, Lewiston

New engineering facility, manufacturing addition values exceed $19 million

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Pullman, Wash.-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. is acting as its own contractor on two major construction projects under way with a combined value exceeding $19 million.

One project is a $9 million, 98,000-square-foot Zocholl Engineering Building, on SEL's main campus in Pullman, and the other is a $10 million-plus, 140,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing plant in Lewiston, Idaho, says Jana Schultheis, SEL's property manager.

SEL produces electrical system protection, monitoring, and control equipment for industrial, commercial, and electrical utility markets worldwide, and has grown rapidly in the U.S. and abroad for a number of years.

The current Pullman and Lewiston construction projects are the first to be managed by SEL's recently formed in-house design-build team, Schultheis says, adding that many of the subcontractors on the Pullman project are from the Spokane area.

Among them, Divcon Inc. is supplying structural concrete; Interstate Erectors Inc. is handling the standing steel; Cobra BEC Inc. is installing the roofing system; and KTU of Spokane Inc., is working on mechanical systems, she says. Also, the Spokane office of DCI Engineers is the structural engineering consultant, and Summit Professional Engineering LLC, of Spokane, is engineering electrical systems.

SEL hasn't selected subcontractors for the Lewiston project, where work is just starting, Schultheis says.

That addition will more than double the size of the manufacturing plant there, which opened just a year ago in the Lewiston Business & Technology Park, about a mile south of the Snake River.

"The Lewiston plant is coming online faster than we expected," Schultheis says. "It's doing so well, we're bringing on the building (addition) a full year sooner than anticipated."

The Lewiston plant employs more than 200 people now, and with the addition, will have the capacity for up to 750 employees, says Tammy Lewis, an SEL spokeswoman.

Lewis says she expects it will take a few years to reach capacity at that plant.

In Pullman, the Zocholl project is named for the late Stanley Zocholl, an SEL engineer who held seven patents with the company among his 26 U.S. patents and 46 international patents.

The Zocholl facility, which is scheduled to open in May, will enable SEL to test products at a central location on the company's Pullman campus instead of at scattered locations there and even in Oregon and California.

Engineering laboratories will occupy the first floor, and the second and third floors will have space for research and development, Schultheis says.

"It will be a state-of-the-art facility," she says. "It will have nice new equipment that will allow engineers to do more and will help SEL keep growing."

As research and development personnel relocates to the centralized engineering facility, space will open up in other buildings.

"As positions move around, we will backfill other spots," Lewis says.

SEL also operates manufacturing plants in Lake Zurich, Ill., and in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The company has more than 3,400 employees in all who work at 51 U.S. locations and 43 international offices. The company currently has 230 job openings worldwide, including positions for about 30 interns, Lewis says.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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