Houston company moving its HQ, plant to BR

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, shakes hands Friday with Tony Harper, president of Jogler, a Houston company that is moving its headquarters and manufacturing plant to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden participated in the news conference at the Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, shakes hands Friday with Tony Harper, president of Jogler, a Houston company that is moving its headquarters and manufacturing plant to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden participated in the news conference at the Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU.

Officials: More than 60 new jobs likely

Jogler, a Houston-based company that makes devices that measure the level of liquids in tanks for a variety of industries, said Friday it will move its headquarters and manufacturing facility to Baton Rouge and create more than 60 jobs over the next 10 years.

Officials did not say how many jobs initially will be coming to the capital city. The new jobs will have an average annual salary of $59,300, plus benefits.

Louisiana’s economic development department estimates that an additional 79 indirect jobs will be created by Jogler’s relocation and hiring.

The company is spending more than $1.1 million to relocate from Houston to a 17,000-square-foot space at 6767 Complex Drive in Industriplex, Tony Harper, Jogler’s president, said during a news conference at LSU’s Lod Cook Hotel and Conference Center. The move is expected to happen in November, and Jogler will begin local hiring this month.

Harper bought the 50-year-old business in June. Before that, he was president of K-tek, a Prairieville company that also makes devices that measure the levels of liquids in storage tanks. Harper sold his interest in K-tek to a private equity firm in 2007.

“I was a personal investor and a bum for about five years,” he said.

Harper and his two sons moved to Houston and started working at Jogler.

“I thought I would leave the company in Houston, there was a better business climate, a better tax climate,” he said.

But Harper said he realized Texas wasn’t a better place to do business than in Louisiana. “Having had a workforce in Louisiana, it’s hard to beat a group of Louisiana workers,” he said.

He then reached out to Louisiana officials to see about relocating Jogler.

Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said his office was first contacted two months ago by Harper, who was considering his options about staying in Houston or moving back to Louisiana. BRAC helped Harper identify potential sites for the business, gave him information on available incentives and helped bridge a relationship with LED.

“For competitive reasons, we had to move quickly,” Knapp said.

BRAC employees were able to get Harper the information he wanted in a week and a half.

Getting Jogler fits in with BRAC’s targeted industry strategy, Knapp said. The light manufactured products it makes for use in the oilfield, chemical and pulp and paper industries are classified as fabricated structural materials, one of the areas that is being concentrated on for job growth.

“We think they’re being very conservative,” Knapp said. “There’s an upside for Jogler to be a much bigger company based on his (Harper’s) success with K-tek.”

K-tek has more than 150 employees and does $50 million in annual sales.

Jogler is also expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs and the Louisiana FastStart workforce training program.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said he was pleased that Harper decided to get back into business and move Jogler to Baton Rouge.

“A lot of guys, after his success, would have retired and been somewhere playing golf or fishing,” Jindal said.