Denver lands NamJet HQ, 63 jobs

NAMJet LLC, the manufacturer of high-powered waterjets to propel workboats through the water, is moving its manufacturing and operational headquarters to Denver after its parent company landed a contract to supply the U.S. Army with up to $259 million in military-grade watercraft.

NAMJet, currently based in Benton, Ark., will make a $4 million investment at a 50,000-squre-foot site it’s leased at 4959 Kingston St. in northeast Denver, according to an announcement from the city.

NAMJet chose Denver due to the city’s quality of life, the nearby ski areas, but also because it made business sense, said Jim Ducker, the company’s general manager.

The company currently employs about 20 people, and 10 to 15 are expected to move to Denver with the company, he said.

NAMJet’s expansion means about 63 new jobs to Denver, the city said.

NAMJet is owned by Australian company Birdon Pty Ltd., and the owners are “big skiers with ties to Denver,” Ducker said, adding that he grew up in Denver and is a graduate of Englewood High School.

But the move also penciled out on business terms, Ducker said.

“We did our due diligence and from employment and building availability and cost, taxes .. ultimately, when we’d gone through the diligence {Denver] just made sense from every perspective,” he said.

The company also considered Seattle, Houston and California, Ducker said.

NAMJet doesn’t need a big body of water to make its waterjets, a small lake will work fine for test runs, he said.

And Denver also made sense because the company works with clients around the world, and Denver has easy air connections through DIA.

NAMJet expects to open its doors in Denver on May 1, Ducker said.

The move stems from a contract NAMJet’s parent company, Birdon America, the U.S. subsidiary of Birdon Pty Ltd., won to supply “bridge erection boats” to the U.S. Army.

The contact calls for the replacement of the Army’s fleet of 400 bridge erection boats — each of the boats have two of NAMJets waterjets.

Birdon bought the company, formerly named North American Marine Jet, in 2011.

Bridge erection boats provide propulsion and maneuverable thrust to support temporary floating bridges in areas where existing bridges have been destroyed, according to the city’s announcement.

They can also be used in a ferry configuration to transport equipment supplies and troops, and to tow other bridge boats. The boats can be transported by road, rail and air, according to the announcement.

The city offered the company a total of $140,000 in incentives, according to Derek Woodbury with the Denver Office of Economic Development.

The money is split, with $115,000 from Denver’s business incentive fund earmarked to reimburse NAMJet for costs related to the corporate relocation and startup. The remaining $25,000 in incentives comes from Denver’s new business investment program in the form of a credit on NAMJet’s business personal property taxes, Woodbury said.

“NAMJet propulsion played a key role in Birdon securing the contract, as their TRAKTOR Jet products provide significantly more thrust than other water jets while maintaining top end speed,” Ducker said.

“U.S. defense contracts are among the most competitive in the world, and this win is a testament to NAMJet’s propulsion expertise and ingenuity,” he said.

Author: Cathy Proctor covers energy, the environment, transportation and construction for the Denver Business Journal and edits the weekly “Energy Inc.” newsletter. Phone: 303-803-9233. Subscribe to the Energy Inc. newsletter

Posted in: Denver

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