The sale of Tempest Technology Group, a Fresno company that is a leading U.S. manufacturer of powerful firefighting ventilation blowers, to France’s Leader Group will preserve local manufacturing jobs and potentially grow jobs as the new owner adds production and warehousing.
Former Tempest chief Dexter “Scorch” Coffman said the company produces a range of gas-powered blowers used by fire departments across the country, as well as a line of power saws. Those products will continue to be built at the company’s west-central Fresno location, which now has about 20 employees. Leader Group will relocate some of its own production to Fresno as well, as well as warehousing at the site.
The sale terms were not disclosed.
Coffman, 74, bought the company in 1989 and said the decision to sell was based on his desire to enjoy retirement.
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Tempest was the first major American manufacturer of “positive pressure ventilation” equipment – high-powered, gas-fueled blowers to push fresh air into burning structures to clear out smoke and poisonous gases – for fire departments. Its equipment is widely used across the U.S., including the Fresno Fire Department.
Leader Group is a top European firm in the industry and a competitor to Tempest. Years ago, Coffman said, Tempest had approached Leader about being a distributor of its products in Europe, but Leader went a different direction. “They’ve wanted to come into the U.S. market for years,” Coffman said. “They’re a $28 million company” in annual sales; the Tempest deal gives them another $4.5 million to $5 million in annual sales, he added.
In addition to its Fresno manufacturing plant on North Blythe Avenue, Tempest has a regional sales office in Oklahoma and a worldwide network of dealers and distributors. Coffman said Leader will add to the manufacturing lines at the west-central Fresno plant, eventually expanding onto property next door that that Leader will lease from Coffman.
In a statement, the two companies added that the Fresno location will also serve as a stock warehouse for Leader products, including firefighting foam.