Juliette Kerr

News: Epic Wake Boats to move into the Cado Manufacturing Plant in Vivian

July 20, 2010 by Juliette Kerr
View large version of image: Epic Wake Boats to move into the Cado Manufacturing Plant in Vivian

A new boat manufacturer has breathed life into the Caddo Manufacturing plant in Vivian

Epic Wake Boats has announced it will use the facility and the plant’s workforce to produce its electric and hybrid boats. The company’s plans also include producing two electric cars, which are built more for recreation than everyday commuting, at the facility.

Epic officials say they plan to employ more than 400 people at the plant during the next few years.
“I’m not sure how many people we’ll hire,” said Eric Williford, the director of marketing for Epic. “But we need a lot of help.”

Williford said employment numbers are dependent on boat orders.

The more orders, the more jobs will be needed, he added.
Vivian Mayor Steve Rogers said it makes sense for Epic to partner with Caddo Manufacturing.

“We have the workforce and the location is perfect,” he said. “In a few years, (Interstate) 49 will be here, and we’re a short drive to the Port of Shreveport-Bossier.”
While building boats is nothing new to Caddo Manufacturing, the technology is new. Epic employs green technology, which has been a trendy sector of late. Epic’s electric boats have no emissions to pollute the air or water. The hybrid model, which requires diesel to keep the battery charged, has very few emissions.
Most of the green industry is centralized in California, but Epic CEO Chris Anthony hopes Louisiana can be a new breeding ground for green businesses.

“Why can’t this be the green capital?” he said at an announcement event Friday in Vivian. “You have the workforce. You have the infrastructure.”

Epic hopes it will be able to revitalize a facility that has seen better days.

Hundreds of people lost jobs a few years back when VIP Boats went bankrupt. Caddo Manufacturing LLC formed to pull the company out of bankruptcy, but employment levels had been dwindling for years. At its peak, there were about 400 people working there. Now there are about 40 left.

Carl Easter is one of them. He has been with Caddo Manufacturing for 12 years on and off.

Easter admits he was skeptical when he heard a new company was coming into the plant. But now he’s a believer.

“You just get a good feeling with them,” he said of Epic.
Easter said many employees got no warning when they were laid off by VIP.

“We came to pick up our checks and some of us had notes in them saying we won’t be needed anymore,” he said. “It left a bad taste in our mouths.”

But now the future looks bright for the facility and its former workers, Easter added.

He said many of his old colleagues have been calling to ask how they can apply.

“People are getting excited now,” he said. “A lot of people are going to apply.”

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