Genco employee Joel Jensen inspects the interior of one of the custom-built mine vehicles the company manufactures.
International trade in Castle Country extends beyond the imports on the shelves of the "big box" retail stores. It reaches into a small manufacturing and mine supply company on the outskirts of Huntington as well.
For the past 14 years, Genco Mine Service has been importing basic military vehicles from China and customizing them for use in American mines. "The Chinese manufacture them to our specifications, then they're shipped to the Port of Oakland, then Salt Lake and then to Huntington," explained Glenn Sebring, co-founder of Genco.
He said he travels to Beijing to meet with his suppliers about once a year. He used to travel quite a bit in this country to meet potential customers but that is not as necessary as it once was because now the customers are coming to Huntington. That's the benefit of 32 years worth of reliable service, he said.
"When someone comes in to work here, I let them know that if the customer isn't happy, then I'm not happy," he stated. And since the company serves customers in many time zones, and those mines often have multiple shifts, it means that "we have to be ready to support what we sell 24 hours a day."
The product line at Genco is strictly utilitarian, not glamorous. Its vehicles are custom-designed to transport miners and equipment in different environments - underground coal, underground hard rock, surface mining. Some are low-slung without cabs, some are hard-top models. The low profile models are more suitable for mines in the East or Midwest, where coal seams are lower than in Utah, Sebring explained.
Although the the hard-top models are designed for different passenger or freight loads, they all have the same doors. The company found out from experience that it could keep its spare parts inventory lower, and thereby cut costs, if it standardized the doors and designed the chassis around them, Sebring said.
Sebring got into mining when he decided his first career as a Spanish teacher was not for him. It turned out that Genco, which he helped to create in 1978, was more to his liking.