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Business

Nomad GCS Expands to Lincoln County

The Flathead Valley-based mobile command center manufacturer is setting up shop in a 100,000-square-foot facility in Libby, creating up to 200 new jobs

By Maggie Dresser
A mobile command center for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is under construction at Nomad Global Communication Solutions in Kalispell on Sept. 18, 2019. Nomad GCS builds advanced mobile custom communications system for vehicles across the nation and the world. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

As Nomad Global Communication Solutions (GCS) continues to expand its operations manufacturing mobile command center vehicles and specialized units for a variety of customers, the Columbia Falls-based company announced early this year that it was growing its footprint beyond the Flathead Valley with a new facility opening in Libby – and bringing up to 200 jobs to Lincoln County.

Nomad’s latest expansion opportunity comes after its purchase of the former Stinger Welding building in Libby’s Kootenai Business Park. Prior to closing in 2013, Stinger employed 69 people. The 100,000-square-foot facility was also briefly home to Isotex Health, a hemp processing company that closed in early 2020.

The prominent Libby property has been dormant until Nomad’s recent acquisition.

Now in its 20th year, Nomad GCS has established itself as a leader in the development, design and manufacturing of Connected Mobile Operations Centers (CMOC) for customers in defense, public safety, healthcare, telecommunications, and other industries. Nomad holds contracts within the public safety sector as well as with federal government entities such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In the past five years, CEO Will Schmautz said Nomad’s defense products and telecommunications contracts have grown significantly, leading to the company’s expansion.

There are currently five Nomad GCS buildings in the Flathead Valley, where the company employs nearly 200 workers. Nomad GCS officials said the decision to expand some manufacturing operations to Libby was due in part to its large untapped labor pool.

“We came to the conclusion that in order to sustain the amount of growth, we need to focus on areas that have an additional population and workforce that would be excited about this kind of opportunity,” Schmautz said. “Libby just seemed like a really ripe community for this.”

A building in Libby that will house Nomad’s expansion. Courtesy photo.

While Nomad GCS is working to recruit its Flathead labor pool after struggling with staffing shortages in recent years, Schmautz said they predict that recruitment and retention will be simpler in Libby, where the industry will be new to its population.

As of December, Lincoln County’s unemployment rate was 4.2% compared to Flathead County’s unemployment rate of 2.8%.

According to Montana Department of Labor and Industry data, Lincoln County’s major industries are tourism, recreation, mining, and lumber and wood products manufacturing. Lincoln County is Montana’s largest wood products producer and is also home to the state’s most commercial forestland.

In 2021, the forestry and logging industry employed an average of 99 laborers. The construction industry employed 446 laborers and the manufacturing industry employed 216, according to data.

Although Nomad’s operation represents a departure from those traditional sectors, Schmautz said the facility is a good fit for the expansion.

“We wanted to find an area that appeared to have an available workforce,” Schmautz said. “And they happened to have a huge facility up there.”

The former welding facility is 500-feet-by-200 feet and is 45 feet tall, giving Nomad GCS ample space to manufacture and outfit vehicles, Schmautz said.

Recently, the company has contracted with several defense sector customers who use specialized shipping containers for sea operations. For those clients, Nomad GCS developed the containers to be more easily shipped via railcar, ship or airplane.

“We are going to develop a very specialized container approach, which basically fits all the same form and function and meets the certification requirements to operate,” Schmautz said. “There will be a specially engineered manufactured product by us for the defense.”

Brian O’Myer welds a metal frame together at Nomad Global Communication Solutions on Sept. 18, 2019. Nomad GCS is a Kalispell company that builds advanced mobile custom communications systems for vehicles. Their clients span the private and public sectors and include NASA and the National Guard. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Libby facility will largely be used for manufacturing but will also house project managers and engineers.

Schmautz said they hope to initially hire 30 to 50 employees, eventually totaling to around 200, with operations likely beginning in early spring.

To keep up with business expansion, which Schmautz says grows by 50% each year, Nomad GCS officials are also looking to establish facilities in other parts of the country and could eventually grow to international locations.

“Probably one of the most exciting parts of this whole thing is that the community in Libby seems very excited about what we’re up to,” Schmautz said. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to provide some high-quality employment opportunities up there and I think they appear to have a well-qualified workforce … I think it’s going to be a great fit between the two parties.”

For more information, visit www.nomadgcs.com.

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