Autom to employ more than anticipated

Friday, May 9, 2008
Attending the groundbreaking for Autom were, from left, Tommy Harris, Deborah Cameron, Phil Sanders, Hershel Davis, Connie Edde, Ronald Robinson, Jerry Merriman, Robin Minor, Jimmy Johnson, Terry Wallace, Eddie Wiles, Monte Mertens, Richard Williams, Bob Phillips, John Chunn, Joe Liggett, Dean Dickey and Tommy Burns.

Autom Church Supply Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., has already expanded plans for its new building in Lewisburg, a company official said shortly after groundbreaking ceremonies in Lewisburg's Business Park.

The company is planning 40 new jobs instead of 25.

"We've changed the plan right off the bat," said Monte Mertens, operations manager for Autom, a business that traces its roots to late 1946, when its founder read about and grew to admire Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

In addition to moving a telephone call center from Arizona, the business plans to bring a candle making business here, Mertens said.

When Autom's plans were first announced, officials said they anticipated 20-30 new jobs for people who'd receive orders from Autom customers. That's apparently going to grow to include a candle-manufacturing operation, according to Mertens' modest remarks after the groundbreaking on April 23.

"Initially, we planned about 25 jobs, but now we're probably going to be in the 40 range," Mertens said.

As a church supply company, Mertens noted, the business is very seasonal, with the Easter and Christmas holidays its busiest times. Because of that, moving the call center and other aspects of the business will be done late in the year.

Mertens anticipated the company will take occupancy of its new building around November, but moving some operations probably won't come until after Christmas. The call center probably won't be established here until about a year after this past Easter.

John Chunn, president of Truette Construction, 551 East Commerce St., is the contractor for Autom's building project. The new structure will be on the west side of Veterans Drive, the one road built into the business park on the north side of Mooresville Highway just west of town.

"The city decided to go west . . .Pickup a copy of today's edition, Friday, May 9, 2008 of the Marshall County Tribune.