A polygamous community in southern Utah is about to lose its biggest employer.
Western Precision Inc., a high-tech machine shop that employs about 100 people, plans to move its operation from Hildale to an unspecified locale near Las Vegas, according to a court document.
The move will occur by August and will involve a name change, too, since there is a similarly named business – Western Precision Machine – already in Nevada. The filing indicates the company will continue to employ many of its current workers, though it does not elaborate on how that will happen.
Steven J. McCardell, an attorney for Western Precision, did not return a telephone call Monday from The Salt Lake Tribune seeking information about the move.
The relocation will be a blow to the economic base of Hildale, which with Colorado City, Ariz., is the historic home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Western Precision, which makes components used in such products as bicycles, blood pumps and military aircraft, is currently involved in litigation over its purchase of property from the FLDS church’s United Effort Plan Trust.
Bruce R. Wisan, a court-appointed fiduciary overseeing the trust, alleges the building and land are trust assets and that former trustees wrongfully sold them to Western Precision for $25,000 – a fraction of the $1.8 million to $5 million he pegs as the real value of the building and 3.3 acres it sits on. The transaction occurred months after two lawsuits were filed against the FLDS church, its leaders and the trust.
Western Precision maintains it paid a fair price for the land and built its facility with its own or borrowed funds.
According to affidavits in the case, Western Precision once funneled as much as $100,000 to the FLDS church and its leaders, among them current president Warren S. Jeffs. That allegation is disputed by attorneys representing the business.
Western Precision moved from West Jordan to Hildale in early 2002 – a move company officials say was done for business purposes. At that time, FLDS leaders had predicted cataclysmic destruction would hit the Salt Lake Valley as the 2002 Winter Olympics came to Utah; they urged followers to relocate to the twin towns.
A massive, around-the-clock community work project helped facilitate Western Precision’s move south, which occurred over a matter of weeks, according to court documents. The company said those were donations to its enterprise.
Western Precision said it will maintain a “presence in and security for” its 55,266-square-foot facility in Hildale after its move. While a court order blocks it from moving any “attached or affixed” parts of the building, the company does plan to move furniture and machining equipment, it said.