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Equipment testing, hiring underway for concrete pipe manufacturer

About a year ago, David Jones, owner of Universal Precast, and the Pike County Commission announced the future opening of a 78,000 square-foot facility just north of Troy.

Not long after the announcement, the COVID pandemic reached the United States and complicated plans. Jones said he contracted COVID before it became widespread in the U.S. and the pandemic had slowed down development of his operation in Pike County.

“I had a really bad case of COVID a few weeks before [announcing plans to build a facility in Troy],” Jones said. “We had a lot of delays because of the pandemic. We still have equipment we ordered that we haven’t gotten because of the pandemic.”

Jones said he originally planned to open in June of 2020, but the pandemic threw a kink into his time-line. But, he said he was pleased with the progress despite the challenges the pandemic posed.

“One of the main reasons we located here was because we were working with a government entity,” Jones said. “They took care of our access to the 231. That took about a year, if we were working with another entity, it may have taken three years.”

Jones said the Pike County Commission took the lead with the Alabama Department of transportation and took care of securing industrial access. Pike County Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said the commission was able to secure an Alabama Department of Transportation Industrial Access Grant for work connecting the Universal Precast site to U.S. Highway 231.

Universal Precast is based out of Mobile and the Troy facility will manufacture concrete pipes and culverts for use in the construction industry and road industry. Jones previously told The Messenger he had contracted with Whaley Construction, in Troy, and S.A. Graham Construction, in Brundidge, in the past.

“Right now, we have our facility built and have a few people manufacturing concrete pipe,” Jones said. “We’re doing some testing on equipment and will be hiring more people. We should be fully up and running in another four to six weeks.”

Sullivan said Universal Precast would be a welcome addition to the county’s industrial base.

“We were fortunate to get them,” Sullivan said. “They have a pretty good pay scale and there is no other business around here that manufactures concrete pipe. They will be a good addition to the county.”