Pipe plant comes to Livingston

Pipe plant comes to Livingston

John Dupont | The Livingston Parish News

LIVINGSTON – Construction will begin by the end of June on a $45.3 million advanced pipe fabrication facility and its corporate headquarters near the town of Livingston.

Governor Bobby Jindal made the announcement Wednesday at the Livingston Parish Courthouse along with representatives from Epic Piping. Epic will locate a 200,000 square-foot facility on a 70-acre site to the immediate southwest of the Interstate 12 interchange of La. 63, just outside the town’s corporate limits.

Officials said the project will create 560 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $50,000 and $60,000, plus benefits. It will pump an estimated an additional $45 million in annual payroll to the Livingston Parish economy.

“That’s an incredible amount of money to inject in the parish from one operation, and this is their corporate headquarters, so as they continue to grow facilities worldwide, they’ll still be adding personnel here in the Livingston office,” said Randy Rogers, president and CEO of Livingston Economic Development Council. “This will be the home office for Epic Piping, so we’re really excited not just about what’s here today, but what will be here in the long-term future of Livingston Parish.”

Employee recruitment will begin immediately.

Further expansion of up to 300,000 square feet is planned for the facility, which currently operates in Baton Rouge.

The entire facility will be air-conditioned, with advanced robotic equipment to optimize pipe fabrication for numerous industries.

The headquarters will occupy 20,000 square feet, with 500 employees in manufacturing and production roles and another 60 dedicated to professional administrative roles.

Epic was formed last month by a group that involves former employees of The Shaw Group, and received a portion of its funding from Bernhard Capital Partners, a group led by former Shaw Chairman/founder Jim Bernhard. The Shaw Group sold to worldwide engineering conglomerate CB&I for $3 billion in 2013.

The state offered Epic a performance-based $1.8 million economic development grant to offset site infrastructure to bring the project to reality.

Louisiana Economic Development estimates the projects will result in an additional 732 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 1,200 new jobs in the Capital Region and surrounding parishes.

The company estimates the project will also generate 385 construction jobs.

“Epic Piping represents an exciting economic win for Livingston Parish, the Capital Region and our entire state,” Jindal said. “With skilled, productive workers and outstanding resources in the Capital Region, our best-in-nation business climate continues to pay great dividends for our economy.

“Today, more people have a job in our state than ever before, and the quality of those jobs continues to climb with each major business investment we attract,” the governor said. “Epic Piping could have taken this state-of-the-art facility and headquarters to Texas, Mississippi or Tennessee, but instead the company’s leadership recognized the great advancement and opportunities taking place in Louisiana today.”

The project continues the development of the Interstate 12 corridor into a commercial hotbed along Interstate 12, Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks said.

“Livingston Parish is just beginning to realize the advancement of that potential,” he said. “I’m excited that Epic, the fastest-growing pipe fabricator in the world, is moving into our parish and will provide high-paying, quality jobs for our residents in a plant that will offer modern technology and a totally climate-controlled environment.”

Epic’s decision to locate in Livingston Parish represents the strength of the business climate in the area, Rogers said.

“Our time has finally come,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time expanding our infrastructure, our population is growing, our interstate is growing, our school system is improving and we have a future community technical college. This project is huge.”

The Town of Livingston’s role will involve the development of infrastructure for the facility, Mayor Derral Jones said.

“We’ll be really busy trying to hunt dollars for sewer, gas and whatever the needs will be,” he said.

Town officials will now determine whether they should incorporate that area, Jones said.

“That discussion is going on now, and we’re trying to determine if it’s good or bad to annex that area in,” he said.

The biggest question stems from how much of EPIC’s product is sales-taxable, and how much of it would go to the town, Jones said.

“It would have to come here for us to enjoy any sales tax revenue, and that’s the question we’ve had since we’ve started this discussion,” he said.

Incorporation would also require the town’s fire and police departments to protect the industrial area.

“We have to weigh out the benefits and liabilities and see what we’ve got,” Jones said.

The project will bring a huge boost to the town and the parish, the mayor said.

“The jobs are the big news for us … it’s overdue,” Jones said. “I don’t know the percentage of young men and women who travel out of town to go to work in Ascension and other areas – the welders, pipefitters, operators … all these skills will be needed.

“It’s a great day for us, and we’re very excited about it,” Jones said.

Right now, the home base is on Sherwood Forest Boulevard in Baton Rouge, where Epic shares office space with Jacobs Engineering and a few other businesses, Shepherd said.

Epic will be headed by David Chapman Sr., who serves as chief executive officer. He worked in the manufacturing and fabrication industry for over 45 years. Chapman will manage business and operational strategies across the company.

“We are excited to be the fastest growing fabricator in the world and we envision Epic Piping becoming the gold standard in the piping and manufacturing industry,” Chapman said.