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The City of Lompoc’s Economic Development Committee is proud to announce Wilco Distributors and Hot Wire Foam Factory as the latest recipients of its Economic Vitality Award (EVA). Both local manufacturers in town, the recipients are recognized for their dedication and involvement in this industry in Lompoc.

Wilco Distributors is a longtime Lompoc business which has weathered economic downturns. In 1971, Don Willis started Wilco in his garage in Iowa as a way to help people mitigate pesky rodents.

In 1978, he moved the business to Lompoc, which provided Wilco with expanded manufacturing and warehousing capabilities. Shortly after the move, business quickly took off and now serves a variety of customers including rodent control for homeowners’ lawns and gardens, as well as fields, vineyards and golf courses.

In 2000, after 22 years, the business outgrew that particular facility. Wilco Distributors moved their business across the street to a larger facility, at 1200 W. Laurel Ave. Wilco helps homeowners and professionals deal with pocket gophers, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, rats, mice, moles, voles and more. The business' products include professional and homeowner baits, applicators, traps for rodents and bait stations. Its reach spans nationally, west of the Mississippi, and it all happens right here in Lompoc.

Now owned by Blake Hazen, Wilco has always been a booster for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the 4-H Clubs in the Lompoc Valley, and is one of the city’s largest supporters of those groups at the Santa Barbara County Fair livestock auction.

Since 1980, Wilco Distributors, Inc. has been a sponsor for the Santa Barbara County Fair and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It is a unique manufacturing business in our community, recognized by the Economic Development Committee as a valuable addition to our business community.

Another unique business in Lompoc was also recognized for an Economic Vitality Award. In business since 1991, Hot Wire Foam Factory manufactures craft, professional and industrial foam cutting tools, supplies and accessories.

In 1987, Tony Natal designed and built a unique foam cutting tool to make foam gliders for his young grandson. Rather than sawing through Styrofoam, he developed a tool that melted a thin clean slice through the foam, eliminating the use of serrated blades that made a mess of tiny foam particles that stuck to everything. In 1988, Tony designed a foam cutting tool for his son David Natal to make lightweight scenery for clay animation sets. In 1991, David asked Tony to create a set of foam cutting tools for miniature terrain making that he could manufacture and market. The new company was given the name Hot Wire Foam Factory.

Hot Wire Foam Factory’s lightweight, earth-friendly, durable and cost-efficient foam is perfect for projects like foam art, foam props and backdrops, foam modeling, holiday foam decorations, foam signs and displays, foam craft projects and home décor, as well as industrial and commercial foam projects.

The company's professional quality foam cutting tools make cutting EPS foam (polystyrene foam and Styrofoam) fast, fun and easy. Since 1991, it has been manufacturing hot wire cutters and foam cutting machines.

Hot Wire Foam Factory supplies hot wire foam sculpting tools, a Crafter’s Hot Knife, two Pro Hot Knives, and a new Industrial Hot Knife. It's Freehand Router has a shapeable foam cutting hot wire. The foam Engraving tool is perfect for detailing your foam sculpture. You can quickly cut down your big blocks of foam with their two- to four-foot adjustable hot wire Bow Cutter. They offer two versatile Foam Cutting Tables. Their spray-on and brush-on foam glues are the best on the market. Protect and beautify your foam projects with their versatile foam coatings.

All of Hot Wire Foam Factory’s products are available through their website,

Its website features free videos and an impressive gallery of projects.

To stay updated on the EDC’s progress throughout the year, like the “Lompoc Economic Development Committee” page on Facebook.

Building the Future Today is a column by the Lompoc Economic Development Committee. The column runs on the first and third Sundays of each month. To contact the committee, email Lompoc Economic Development Committee can also be liked on Facebook.