Monroe City manufacturer plans expansion

Chris Massey of Monroe City works on a project at the ASPEQ plant in Monroe City. The manufacturer is starting a $1 million expansion that will add 15 jobs.

MONROE CITY, Mo. — A low-key company in Monroe City has some major expansion plans.

ASPEQ Heating Systems, which is headquartered in St. Louis, plans to quietly break ground this week for a $1 million storage building that will allow the company to expand production on its factory floor that will add product lines and new jobs.

And, in keeping with the company’ tradition, there will not be a Chamber of Commerce event with gold-plated shovels and local dignitaries to pose for obligatory grip-and-grin photos as they turn over dirt.

A contractor will simply start work on the new building, which the company hopes will be operational by the end of August.

ASPEQ vice president Tom Olmsted said the expansion is happening because of the acquisition of a Cleveland company, Spectrum Inc., which serves railroad market with deicing heaters for rail lines.

“The owner was ready to retire. We purchased the assets and product lines and plan to move production from Cleveland — half to our Cuba, Mo., plant and half to Monroe City,” Olmsted said.

With consolidation of Spectrum manufacturing in Monroe City and combined with current openings, ASPEQ is trying to add 15 workers to its 160-person staff.

ASPEQ in Monroe City traces its roots to AccuTherm, which was founded in 1978. AccuTherm serves the process heating industry, manufacturing electric heating equipment for food equipment, oil and gas, and appliance markets, specializing in tubular elements and highly engineered immersion and circulation heaters. Its products are used on U.S. Navy ships to heat diesel fuel.

The ASPEQ Heating Group, which was founded in 2008 to purchase INDEECO, purchased AccuTherm in 2011.

Olmsted said that Spectrum’s products are vital to keep railroads functioning during winter weather.

“The electric control panels and heaters are for deicing rail tracks. For instance, the switch track mechanisms that switch trains onto different tracks cannot build up with ice or they will not function properly. Our elements will go on the control panel so they will not ice up.”

Olmsted said that ASPEQ has a diverse employment base, ranging from mechanical engineering to CAD-CAM specialists and production machinery workers. ASPEQ machines most of its parts internally, purchasing only about 10% of its production needs from suppliers.

He said that the company has weathered to COVID-19 pandemic well. Business was flat in 2020. The company did not lay off employees nor did it seek assistance under either COVID-19 relief bill signed into law last year.

“The first three months of 2021 are looking more life 2019. We are starting to grow again,” Olmsted said.

The company now has about $60 million in sales, with a goal of growing to $100 million.

One of the big challenges for the company is finding employees, which is made more difficult by the low-key nature of the business. Few people are aware of what the company does.

However, company human resource officers are working to raise awareness as evidenced by a direct-mailer to 5,000 addresses in Hannibal area to advertise job openings.

“We have immediate openings. We are ready to hire,” Olmsted said. “Our target right now is to be more publicly known to people who are even necessarily looking for a job but who we would like to know that we are here.”

Recommended for you