Recycler Avangard escapes flooding, but expansion on hold

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Avangard Innovative LP The parking lot at Avangard Innovative LP is flooded.

A handful of employees at Houston-based plastics recycler Avangard Innovative LP had to be rescued from their homes, but the company itself narrowly escaped flood waters brought by Hurricane Harvey.

CEO Rick Perez, in an Aug. 31 phone interview, said he’s thankful all his employees are safe, but displaced workers will face difficulties when they eventually can return to their homes.

“We had about four or five rescues that people had to evacuate by boats,” he said of his employees. “Some don’t know if their houses are still around. I know several lost a lot. A lot of them had a lot of flooding,” Perez said. “Everybody is safe, but we definitely have some damages around housing within our staff.

“From the office standpoint, we were so fortunate that it went to the door, but never came in,” Perez said.

Avangard’s headquarters houses corporate personal as well as processing equipment for the company that also has operations in 14 other countries. With a robust information technology infrastructure, and data operations on the cloud, the company is still being able to continue supporting customers and international operations remotely.

Perez was not sure exactly when staff will be able to return to the headquarters, which had a flooded parking lot. Roads leading to the business also were underwater.

“It’s absolutely been chaos. You would not believe it. It’s one of those events you just cannot get your head around,” Perez said from Austin, Texas, where he’s staying with this family after driving through water at one point to evacuate his own Houston home. “It’s been absolutely crazy.”

“My house did not get flooded. Very fortunate,” he said.

Avangard made headlines last year with plans to construct a $10 million low density polyethylene film recycling plant at its Houston facility. Work on the 35,000-square-foot facility is virtually complete, and the company only was waiting for the final electrical connection to be made when the floodwaters came.

Now Perez is not sure when electrical service will be available considering all the emergency work that probably will push ahead of his film recycling plant connection. “We don’t know when that’s going to start,” he now said. “Talk about timing, my goodness.

“We’re in the 1,000-year flood plain and we’ve got water all the way to our door. It’s just absolutely crazy,” Perez said.