RIPLEY NEW BIZ

Bart Cariello, president of Rockwater Manufacturing, discusses the company’s new operation in Ripley.

FACTSBOX1:

About Rockwater Manufacturing

- Company is based in Freeport, N.Y.

- Ripley plant will make marine fiberglass forms and commercial diving-related equipment.

- Plant will house a dive tank that will simulate lake and river environments for underwater construction training.

HED: Rockwater sets up shop in Ripley

LEAD-IN: The underwater construction manufacturer plans to hire up to 70 people.

By Carlie Kollath

Daily Journal

RIPLEY – A former furniture manufacturing plant became the new home for an underwater construction manufacturer Monday.

Rockwater Manufacturing Corp. officially opened its Rockwater Gulfcoast plant, revamping the former Tech-Craft plant into a business that will hire up to 70 people and manufacture marine rehabilitation and stabilization systems.

Along with selling commercial diving equipment, Rockwater specializes in manufacturing fiberglass reinforcements for marine pilings on roads, bridges and piers.

The company has partnered with Five Star Products, a manufacturer of cement and epoxy grouts, to make a pile jacketing system that is geared toward repairing damaged concrete, steel and wood pilings.

Rockwater, based in Freeport, N.Y., does the majority of its work in the Northeast. However, President Bart Cariello said the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina created a need for his company to establish the Gulfcoast plant.

“Ripley is a close enough that we can lend support without being close enough that we become a victim if something happens again,” Cariello said.

Rockwater originally had a plant in Ashland, but company officials said they quickly outgrew that location. When Rockwater moved to the 48,000-square-foot facility, it brought some of its former employees, but Cariello said his company must hire more people soon.

Steven Prince, director of operations and plant manager at the Ripley facility, said the plant will make a variety of items, including shooting houses for Hunter’s Haven in Tupelo.

In addition, the company will add a dive tank that will be used to train people on how to install the products in a simulated river or lake environment.

“We’re going to have lot of new and exciting things coming to Tippah County,” Prince said. “Who would have thought about a marine company based in Tippah?”

Contact Daily Journal business reporter Carlie Kollath at 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.