Blow molder Lee Container Corp. is venturing farther into the deep South by launching a facility in east Texas that will serve the oil industry.
The company has leased 105,000 square feet of space in Nacogdoches, Texas, to supply oil lubricant containers made from high density polyethylene, said Judy McDonald, president of the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., a private group that helped attract Lee Container.
The company, headquartered in Homerville, Ga., had been looking across the region for a site close to its customers, according to McDonald. City and state officials helped Lee Container make the decision to locate in the remote city of 30,000 people, she said.
The company will ship 1- and 2-gallon oil containers to ChevronTexaco Corp. in Port Arthur, Texas, McDonald said. The large oil company is a major customer of Lee Container for lubricant bottles.
The plant is the first for Lee Container outside of Homerville. The HDPE bottle producer was founded in 1989 after its owners acquired the blow molding assets of paint can manufacturer Brockway Standard Industries Inc. A spokesman for Lee Containerwas traveling and unavailable for comment.
The company also makes custom HDPE bottles for pet care, crop protection, beverages and other specialty uses.
The blow molder plans to invest $5.6 million in equipment for the facility, according to Robert Black, a spokesman for the Texas governor's office. The plant is slated to open by the second quarter of next year, and Lee Container will start with 50-75 people in its first year of operation, McDonald added. Within five years, the company plans to boost employment to as many as 150 workers, she said.
The plant will start with three extrusion blow molding lines, McDonald said. In Homerville, Lee Container has another 14 lines that operate 24 hours, according to the firm's Web site.
``The company was looking for a building with a rail spur that wasn't too far from customers,'' she said. ``We know we were competing with a lot of other cities in the region, and we're lucky to have them.''
The site in Nacogdoches formerly made casual furniture for Sunbeam Products Inc. before it closed in 1998, McDonald said. Lee Container is leasing about one-third of the building, and several other tenants also occupy space at the site, she said.
The city and state converged to help draw Lee Container. The state of Texas offered a $300,000 grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund, set up in 2003 to help companies considering expanding or moving to Texas, Black said. While the $295 million fund has been used for a host of statewide projects, Lee Container was the first recipient in east Texas, a rural area farther from Texas' larger cities, Black said.
Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, announced the Lee Container expansion at an Oct. 26 briefing in Nacogdoches.
The city of Nacogdoches contributed abatements for property taxes, exempting Lee Container for three years and offering a graduating scale over the next seven, McDonald said.
The company also will receive an inventory tax exemption from the Texas Port Authority, she said.