REF rises from the ashes

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 25, 2005

On a cold February Sunday evening, the future looked bleak for REF Alabama Inc.

Tuesday morning, dark skies quickly vanished as the company’s future brightened once again.


Because they were celebrating the reopening of the plant at 301 Industrial Parkway.

Owners Paul and Kathy Flubacher welcomed state and local leaders and local business leaders to their newly refurbished plant. They are quick to point out it was not by choice.

This is the culmination of 13 months since fire ripped through the plant, leaving approximately 60 employees unsure of their status, a city wondering it was losing an industry, but a company owner determined to come back.

The fire, which started sometime between 10:30 and 10:45 p.m. in the maintenance room, ripped through the building causing an extensive amount of smoke and flame damage. It eventually broke through the roof. After a terrible struggle, the Greenville Fire Department brought the fire under control.

Mayor Dexter McLendon was on hand Tuesday and expressed the city’s pleasure in REF’s reopening.

&uot;Paul Flubacher and REF have been good and valuable corporate citizens for 25 years,&uot; he said.

&uot;Our pride is that they stayed committed after the fire, they never laid anybody off and they rebuilt a bigger building.&uot;

The mayor praised Flubacher for his dedication to his employees.

&uot;He is a gentleman who means a lot to our community, but he also means a lot to his employees,&uot; he said.

&uot;For 25 years, he has given his best.&uot;

Flubacher thanked those present and held up two pages from the archives of the Greenville Advocate.

One was the front page about that published a story about the opening of REF in 1980 and the second was from the edition following the tragic fire.

He said the history of the company went from good, to dark days but now the future looks bright. He thanked those attending for the help following the fire.

&uot;Everyone has been extremely helpful in this last year,&uot; he said.

&uot;Now, we anticipate being back in our own building in the next three to four weeks.&uot;

He said in the month after the fire, they quickly refurbished needed equipment and through help from the Butler County Commission for Economic Development and the City of Greenville, they were able to open at another location.

&uot;We thank Mayor McLendon for helping us in the clean-up phase of this rebuild and for permitting the new building,&uot; he said.

&uot;We thank Ricky McLaney and the Butler County Commission for Economic Development for making sure we took advantage of all the incentives granted by the state.&uot;

&uot;It’s nice to be able to come in here and see this new facility,&uot; he said.

&uot;We also owe our thanks to our employees for standing by us.&uot;

John Moseley with the Alabama Development Office spoke highly of Flubacher’s dedication to the area and presented him with a Great Seal of Alabama for display in recognition of his support of the state’s work force.

Commissioner Frank Hickman, on hand for the event, praised Flubacher after the event and said it important to support local industry whenever possible.

&uot;This is certainly a good example of how we can support our existing industry in good times and bad,&uot; he said.

&uot;For so long our focus was on recruiting Hyuandai and their suppliers but we have to give just as much support to our existing industries.

We have to let them know that we support them.&uot;

REF Alabama is a machine shop that manufactures non-ferrous electrical connectors, miscellaneous archery accessories and other products.

They began operations in 1980 in Greenville and have grown to approximately 70 employees.

Their capital investment for this rebuilding project was approximately $1.2 million, with 5,000 square feet added to the building bringing it to 30,000 square feet.

They also plan to add additional five-to-10 employees.