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2 businesses move near Navistar campus

Springfield company buys building and rents space to contractor for truck maker.

Two growing businesses now occupy a building that had been vacant near the Navistar International campus off Urbana Road.

Locally owned Fire and Marine Inc. recently moved into the former Fontaine Modification Center building at 5325 Prosperity Drive in December after years of growth. Fire and Marine purchased the building in November for $625,000.

Fire and Marine builds pontoon boats, sells fire truck mounting equipment and customizes fire trucks. The company is looking to hire two more people for now, bringing employment numbers to 20.

Fontaine Modification, a Navistar contractor, had left Springfield in early 2011 to move to Garland, Texas. It returned here as a tenant in the same building in December last year when the Springfield Navistar plant gained work from Garland.

So far, Fontaine Modification has hired five people and will hire more as production at Navistar ramps up to accommodate the inventory from Garland.

Fire and Marine, meanwhile, has grown steadily over the last seven years — nearly 30 percent year over year, according to Dennis Summers, co-owner.

“We’ve grown so much,” Summers said.

He said the company started out in a 10,000 square foot building seven years ago, moved into a 17,000 square foot building a few years later and now is in a nearly 40,000 square foot building.

“It’s a nice steady growth pattern,” he said, attributing it to more sales and more contracts.

“We’ve worked with a lot of local fire departments. All four owners all feed into company the from many angles,” Summers said.

Fire and Marine is the sum of two previous companies — Summers Brothers Fabricating and Custom Fabricating and Marine Mfg LLC.

Summers says Fire and Marine opened right before the economic recession but remained unaffected by it.

“Our accountant smiles at us every year,” said Summers with a laugh. “And that’s how we know we’re doing it right.”

Shortly after the company purchased the building in December, Fontaine Modification, which does post-production work for the trucking industry, asked about using space there, too. The truck modification company resided in Springfield for 20 years before leaving to contract with a Navistar plant in Garland.

“They are in our old building, and they’re great guys,” Will Trantham, president of Fontaine Modification, said about Fire and Marine. “We have a really good relationship with them.”

The Navistar plant in Garland will close in the summer, and the production will be split between the Springfield plant and one in Escobedo, Mexico.

“The Springfield operation is running and gunning,” Trantham said.

“The Navistar people have just been wonderful to work with,” he said. “They welcomed us back, and we have a great working relationship with the plant and Navistar corporate, and that has just been fantastic.”

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