Electron Machine Makes Big Investment in Umatilla Future

From the original article titled "Electron Machine Makes Big Investment In Umatilla Future" and reprinted with permission from The North Lake Outpost, Vol. 40, No 4.
 
With one eye cast to preserving its deep roots in Umatilla, and another to an efficient, competitive future, the Electron Machine Corporation recently embarked on a major upgrade of its facility. The firm, with decades of history in Umatilla manufacturing and distributing products that provide process measurement for the pulp and paper industry, the food and beverage industry, and the chemical industry, recently faced a crossroads.

Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation.

“We are a small firm. We have to be more nimble. We have to think differently to compete in the industries we’re serving,” said C.A. Vossberg, third generation of the Vossberg family who today oversees the firm’s operations.

Electron Machine HQ
Electron Machine HQ
Facing the need to undertake major upgrades on the company’s aging 25,000 square foot building, a large portion of which isn’t fully utilized, there was discussion about where the future should be.

“We don’t have to have a brand new building, but we need reliability,” Vossberg said, reporting of roofing issues that were hampering operations.

“We said, ‘What is best for the long term?”

 Solar panel installation
Solar panel installation.
Eventually, the decision was made to fix the roof, and more. After nine months, during which countless delays brought about by Hurricane Irma made things even worse, the firm is closing in on completion of a project that features a large solar panel farm that is set to generate enough solar power to run the building.

Vossberg said the idea for solar power at the plant isn’t a new one, given the building’s large, flat roof. But technology has improved to the point to make the project more viable.
“The project is sized so that our net energy consumption over the year will be next to zero,” Vossberg said, a big positive when looking to the financial bottom line of operating at its current location.

There is a big cost to installing such a large solar system. However, Electron Machine has applied for a grant through the USDA to help offset the cost.

“They have a rural America program that encourages employees to remain there, and not move into the city,” Vossberg said. “That’s exactly what we are trying to do.”

Solar powered roof
Bird's-eye view of Electron Machine's solar charged roof.
Vossberg has been a proponent of rural job creation, supporting Lake Tech’s new manufacturing training facility in Eustis which is designed to increase employability in the manufacturing field, and can be found attending City of Umatilla functions regarding the Umatilla Municipal Airport. Electron Machine is among the users of the airport, and Vossberg has said it’s existence is an important cog in the wheel that allows his business to continue to function here.

“Being here, it’s who we are,” Vossberg said.