Local employer Intermountain Electronics, or IE, has been one of the best kept community secrets for the first two decades of the 2000’s. But that has all changed over the past five years, a period that is culminating with the completion of its 150,000 square foot expansion on Highway 6, just south of Price, that will more than double its local manufacturing footprint. This expansion will require the addition of another 70 employees within the next year and will allow IE to more than double its local workforce of 200 employees to over 400 by the end of the decade.
Founded in 1985 to repair electrical components for mining, IE is now one of the country’s leading energy infrastructure specialists. Over the last 30 years, the company has grown to serve several sectors of the energy industry, including oil and gas, power and utilities, data centers, and of course, the local and national mining industry.
“Diversification has been key over the last few years,” stated company CEO Phillip Blackburn. “The process has required a lot of innovation and we have been able to take our problem-solving DNA from mining and apply it to other sectors.”
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the company. Political and economic challenges to coal and then oil and gas resulted in several up and down cycles over the past 15 years. In late 2016, when its oil and gas and mining businesses were under significant pressure, IE took on a major project in the emerging battery energy storage industry in Southern California. Blackburn noted that the short timeline and schedule pushed IE and its employees to the brink. A similar but larger project in 2021, in the middle of COVID, again tested IE’s resolve.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but credit to our team, we stood by our commitments, and for the second time in five years, we delivered the world’s largest energy storage project,” Blackburn said. “Our team was amazing.”
This time, the company’s growth did not go unnoticed. In 2020, IE was recognized by Utah Governor Gary Herbert as Utah’s “Company of the Year.” Company owner and founder John Houston is grateful for the recognition, but he is more focused on getting the new factory expansion built, despite the challenges created by COVID. “It’s certainly been a challenge trying to build in this environment, but we owe it to our customers and our employees. They have both been very good to us,” said Houston.
The diversification into broader energy markets, including the leap to being one of the industry’s key electrical solution providers to data centers for companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, has necessitated more factory space and a larger workforce. In addition to the record-breaking energy storage projects referenced earlier, the Price factory has provided key electrical infrastructure to Facebook’s new data center campus in Salt Lake City and to Intel’s new high profile onshore semiconductor fab in Phoenix.
“Over the next 18 months, we are also providing the process and electrical infrastructure to the new IPP plant in Delta, Utah,” stated Blackburn. The Delta plant will be the first plant in the US configured to run on a combination of natural gas as well as “green hydrogen” made entirely from Utah solar power.
“Our workforce is the heart and soul of everything we do here,” continued Blackburn. “IE’s competitive strategy, at the end of the day, comes down to the quality and commitment of our people. And while we have growing factories supporting customers in Denver as well as in the east, our ownership, the Houston family, will always have a special connection with the people here in Carbon and Emery counties. Our work is demanding, and our team is extremely dedicated. So, we are thrilled to make this investment and provide additional opportunities for our team here,” he concluded.
The company has a long history of working closely with local educators to provide opportunities for students to learn about energy and manufacturing. IE leads a STEM-focused “Explorations” class at local elementary schools, provides a high school internship program, and has teamed up with USU Eastern and Carbon School District to provide a custom apprenticeship program that allows students to earn technical education degrees while learning in a hands-on, paid environment.
While students and interns are valuable to its workforce, they are not the only type of employee IE is looking to add to its team. “No matter where you are on your career path, from entry-level to skilled tradespeople to experienced supervisors, IE has an opportunity for you,” said IE Recruiter Dana Alcon.
The company is hosting an open house and job fair for the community on Nov. 10 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “We hope the community will come see what we are all about,” concluded Houston.