© 2024 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Scott County manufacturer paying employees while rebuilding from a fire

Gary Westermeyer

An air conditioning and refrigeration manufacturer in the small west central Illinois town of Bluffs is rebuilding after a fire recently engulfed its facility.

Despite the fire, none of the 110 employees at Westermeyer Industries has missed a paycheck.

President Gary Westermeyer said the business wanted to keep everybody on payroll.

“The decision was made very early on, actually the next day (after the fire) that we would keep everybody employed,” he said. “Westermeyer employees are vitally important to the business. We are kind of a large company in a small community, and it's very important to us that we keep our people employed.”

The fire damaged two-thirds of the 110,000 square feet of property. He called it a difficult time.

Gary Westermeyer

“While the building was burning, it was 21 years of myself and my wife's personal investment in that business. And to see it burned before your eyes, that was a very devastating experience, but we refuse to be devastated by it,” he said.

“We know with God, this thing will be brought back stronger than it was before. We got a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a very good, strong team of people that are working alongside us to make it happen.”

On September 16, the company posted a message on its website to customers:

The process of replacing our lost inventory is moving along—our supply base has been very responsive, and replacement materials have begun to arrive. Additionally, we are using subcontractors to perform some aspects of fabrication that were lost in the fire. New equipment is being installed, with more to be delivered over the next two weeks.

Westermeyer said he believes the facility could be running at full capacity in October.

Related Stories