Phillips Brothers in LaFayette adding staff

Phillips Brothers in LaFayette adding staff

February 28th, 2013 by Katie Ward in Local Regional News

Phillips Brothers Machine and Fabrication Company hit a growth spurt in 2012 that continues to grow into 2013.

Owner Randall Phillips, of Rock Spring, said he is hiring three new employees this month with plans to continue to add more welders and machinists throughout the year. The new staff will bring his workforce up to 91 employees.

"We are still hiring for positions ... welders, computer-operated machinists and general machinists," he said. "We furnish coffee for the employees, who all work hard. We have safety glasses and ear plugs for them. The welders wear leather sleeves, a chest protector and welding masks."

Phillips Brothers runs two working shifts in its 284,000-square-foot manufacturing space. The first shift is 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the second shift is 3:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. The employees work four 10-hour days Monday through Thursday and enjoy a three-day weekend. A crew comes in on Saturdays to run maintenance on the manufacturing area parts.

According to Phillips, the company, which makes such products as the arms that pick up trash cans attached to Heil-brand garbage trucks as well as parts for the Alstom generator plant in Chattanooga and for Dover Equipment, has 33 welders on staff. One drives all the way from Middle Tennessee to work at Phillips Brothers, but many live in Trenton, Rossville and Summerville, said Phillips. Many of his machine operators reside in LaFayette.

"Phillips Brothers produces heavy equipment parts for sanitary trucks," said Phillips. "We do all the processing of fabrication in-house. We do quite a bit of welding."

His company has completed work for the Heil Company for 28 years, he said.

Phillips Brothers works closely with Georgia Northwestern Technical College and Chattanooga State. Both schools train welders and machine operators, but Phillips Brothers also offers additional in-house training for employees too.

Randall Phillips' son Michael assists in running the business now, and Phillips' younger son Marty works in the Material Purchasing Department of the family company.

Phillips began the company with his late father Ronald Phillips, who provided the financial backing and helped him launch the business in their basement in 1974. The Phillipses purchased machine parts that year, and in 1975 the business officially launched in the Fairview area of Rossville.

The business moved from Rossville to LaFayette in July 2012 in order to expand in the spacious Shattuck Industrial Park. The former location was too small for the booming business.

During the move, Phillips' 52 employees moved with him from Rossville and he hired 36 more employees last summer.

Phillips has been working hard since age 14. As a student at Rossville High School he began learning the trade that he has now mastered for the last 40 years. As a student, he worked on industrial machine parts.

"It's been a good career so far," he said. "It's been a family-operated business since day one. It's a full-time job. A machinist will never be out of work, but you have to be totally dedicated to your job."