Tindall Corp. announced in 2009 plans to locate a manufacturing facility in the Kansas Logistics Park — and in 2012 unveiled a prototype of the concrete bases for wind turbines the company intends to build there.
However, work has yet to begin on a proposed $66 million facility in the Kansas Logistics Park. The acreage Tindall owns remains fallow.
"I can see how that would be disappointing for some people," said Willie Lowndes IV, vice-chairman of Tindall Corp. of Spartansburg, S.C. "But we are still in the swing. We are looking forward to being a member of the Newton community. It is coming slower than we expected."
Since the unveiling of a wind tower base, the Atlas CTB, the company has been marketing the towers and trying to make their first sale.
"We have priced projects as if they were going to be manufactured there, but we have not been fortunate enough to land one of them," Lowndes said. "We have half a dozen or more proposals now that we are chasing in various parts of the country. Nearly all of those are serviceable from Newton."
The bases stand more than 140 feet in height and are made from staves of concrete which weigh in at 100,000 pounds. The tower contains more than 13 miles of steel cable and six miles of conduit. It is ready to go now.
The company has also dedicated engineers to create another, similar base to market to wind energy farms.
"It is a real product. There are similar things used widely in Europe, but not in this country yet," Lowndes said.
The wind energy market has slowed in recent years — and the U.S. market has lagged behind Europe. In the European market, bases similar to the Tindall project are being sold and installed.
"It seems like the wind energy industry is here to stay, there are bumps in the road along the way beyond the control of the industry. I do think it is here to stay in the U.S. and globally," said Chris Polumbo, Vice President of Development for Tindall. "If we were not optimistic, we would not be doing what we are doing right now. … We continue to talk to companies that would be our customers and they continue to seek us out. We are actively in dialogues with a number of companies in the wind energy business."
Both Polumbo and Lowndes said the biggest issue is how current wind farms are being built in the United States. For the Tindall product to work, a tower must be more than 100 meters high. Currently very few of the wind farms built in the United States are using towers of that height.
"We are moving as fast as we can to try and push the market in that direction," Lowndes said.
He did not give a possible time line on breaking ground in Newton.
The proposed plant could employ 200 people within the first year of operation.