A homegrown manufacturing company based in Unicoi is looking to expand and relocate to Washington County.

IMC was founded by Mark and Deborah Carey a little more than 19 years ago when the company they were working for at the time went out of the business. After Alcoa closed its plant in Elizabethton, the husband and wife team decided it was time to open their own aluminum fabricating business.

Mark, an Erwin native, had a background in plant management and production supervision. Deborah, who grew up in Elizabethton, worked in sales, logistics and product control. Both are graduates of Tusculum University with degrees in business organization.

“We had such a good working experience with Alcoa,” Mark said. “The plants we were associated with at Alcoa are now some of our biggest customers.”

The couple used their experience in the aluminum industry to purchase 5 acres of land in the town of Unicoi, where they built a 28,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that began operation in 2002.

IMC does work for large and small aluminum extruders, and produces finished cut and precision-sawed aluminum parts.

Today, IMC has a total of 15 employees and ships between 1.5 and 2 million pounds of precision-sawed products a month from its current location at 3237 Unicoi Drive. The Careys say their business is in need of expansion, and their plant in Unicoi is landlocked by nearby Tennessee Valley Authority power line easements.

Mark said that is why the company recently purchased a 72,000-square-foot facility in Washington County that will help it meet its growing needs. The property is a former Moody Dunbar Inc. warehouse located on Tenn. Highway 107 near the Nolichucky River.

“We need every bit of that space,” Mark said last week. “We are crowded where we are now, and our biggest customer is asking us to expand our work for them by an additional 10 million pounds a year.”

The Careys say that contract with Original Equipment Manufacturers will result in their company adding between 20 and 25 new employees in the next three to five years. Mark said IMC will begin hiring those employees in the fall. Those positions include equipment operators, laborers and office staff.

Those interested in employment opportunities at IMC should call 743-0641.

Deborah said one reason for the company’s success has been the couple’s “team approach” in dealing with customers.

She said the company is now doing contract work for businesses in the automotive, aerospace and defense industries.

Deborah said the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in IMC staying busy supplying the demand of a medical-related company that uses high-pressure aluminum cylinders to make oxygen tanks.

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Press Senior Reporter

Robert Houk has served as a journalist and photographer at the Press since 1987. He is a recipient of the Associated Press Managing Editors Malcom Law Award for investigative reporting.

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