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State backs AMSOIL expansion plan

AMSOIL Inc.'s expansion plan is getting a helping hand from the state. Gov. Jim Doyle was in Superior Wednesday to announce the synthetic lubricants manufacturer was awarded more than $2.1 million in revolving loan funds with a zero-percent inter...

AMSOIL Inc.'s expansion plan is getting a helping hand from the state.

Gov. Jim Doyle was in Superior Wednesday to announce the synthetic lubricants manufacturer was awarded more than $2.1 million in revolving loan funds with a zero-percent interest rate to build a new mainline rail switch, spur track switch, two parallel spur tracks and a rail load-out facility at the AMSOIL Center on Susquehanna Avenue.

"We're here to acknowledge one of Wisconsin's great and visionary businesses," Doyle said.

The loan, through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, is part of $9 million in loans slated for railroad infrastructure improvements in the state. Six projects benefit from the loans offered under the Freight Rail Infrastructure Improvement Program.

This rail expansion enables AMSOIL to expand to meet its growing markets and create jobs in Superior, Doyle said.

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The company, started by Al Amatuzio in 1972, is in the midst of a $15 million expansion project that is expected to create more than 50 jobs in Superior in the next five years. The current volume of rail cars arriving at the plant is about 200 per year, or four per week. However, robust growth in a world market could more than double that traffic in the next five years and triple it in eight years. The move follows the company's expansion into the 371,000 square foot building that once housed Fleming Foods.

This was AMSOIL phase I, said Andy Lisak, Development Association director. He said the company bought the building out of bankruptcy and initially hoped to market part of it. But about three months after the sale, the company stopped trying to market the building because sales were up and the additional space was needed to keep up with demand, Lisak said.

"AMSOIL is a success story in Wisconsin, a story we should all be proud of," Doyle said. "It started with a man who had a vision. He saw a need and he developed a product that would fill it. AMSOIL is now a leader in the manufacture of synthetic lubricants for all types of motors and engines."

With about 80,000 dealers worldwide, Lisak said the company founded in Superior has made its mark.

"Every one of their products that goes out says 'Superior, Wisconsin' so it's kind of a neat success story," he said. "Al Amatuzio started this business. It was kind of a sleeper business. They never asked for anything -- just went about their business -- and what a success story."

Expansion plans include a new bulk unloading area on the west side of the AMSOIL Center for rail and truck shipments, a new, enclosed tank farm built on the north side of the building and an indoor tank farm constructed to store base oils and additives as well as finished products.

The expansion plan increases the company's blending capacity by about 250 percent. In the short term, it's expected to create up to 100 construction jobs. In the long-term, the company expects to hire up to 50 more people.

The expansion was made necessary because demand for AMSOIL's synthetic blends is doubling every 3ยฝ to 4 years, according to company officials.

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The improvements will enhance infrastructure, support Wisconsin businesses and create and retain jobs in communities across the state, Doyle said.

"The loan I am here to talk about today will help AMSOIL improve rail access and construct a loading facility to accommodate the receiving of chemicals necessary to manufacture its products," he said. "This project will result in improvements to the state's intermodal transportation system and help reduce the burden on our highway system."

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