• December 21, 2014

Solar-fan maker Attic Breeze bellows with growth

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Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2014 4:30 am

GATESVILLE — In its fifth year, homegrown Coryell County solar-fan manufacturer Attic Breeze has enlarged its plant and is growing its sales staff and workforce to expand production.

“Since December, we have added a new sales manager and two more to the sales staff,” owner Travis Hipp said. “In the back (production area), we have hired two and will be hiring two more hourly workers.”

The Attic Breeze workforce has grown to 23 and the company is still interviewing job applicants, Hipp said.

Last year, the company more than doubled its plant size at 1370 Farm-to-Market 116 by adding a new 25,000-square-foot building alongside the 17,000-square-foot facility built in 2009.

Coryell County helped by extending a property tax abatement granted for the original construction to include the expansion.

Under the schedule, for the original construction of about $500,000, the property tax abatement gradually lowered over seven years from 90 percent to 10 percent.

The county agreed to Hipp’s request for an additional $310,000 of property value created by the expansion to be rolled into the abatement schedule.

The company reported annual sales of $2.5 million to $3 million when applying for the abatement.

In addition to more space for the growing sales force, the expansion made room for new equipment to include a spinner that turns out seamless flashings and tops for the company’s fans and skylights.

Attic Breeze makes 30 different models of solar-powered fans and tubular skylights, shipping 6,000-8,000 units a year through about 850 distributors around the world.

Unrelated to the solar fans, the plant handles powder-coating jobs for customers. Hipp said he also is considering taking steel-fabrication projects.

Like the original plant, the new structure will be fitted with a solar-panel array on the roof to provide electrical power for the company, Hipp said. Solar power provides about half the company’s electricity consumption.

A Gatesville native, Hipp was working as a chemical engineer in Houston in 2005 when his dissatisfaction with a hot attic in his new house prompted him to design a solar fan in his garage workshop.

The design proved successful, and he returned to his hometown to start Attic Breeze in 2009.

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