Fresh off a production increase and in the midst of an expansion, plastics recycler Carolina Materials LLC is buying its 84,000-square-foot plant in Belmont, N.C., 30 adjacent acres of land and 12 silos that can hold 2.5 million pounds of rubber and plastic.
Chief Executive Officer Phil Friedman said Carolina Materials has signed letters of intent to buy the land and buildings.
The firm disclosed the news Oct. 18 at Plastics Encounter in Charlotte.
The company, which employs about 30, is installing two new sheet extruders capable of making 10-foot-wide sheet. The lines will more than triple current capacity, Friedman said.
``We should be able to produce between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds an hour of sheet,'' he said. He added that he expects his workforce to grow to 100 by the end of 2006.
A former textile plant, the site features two buildings connected by a 10- by 10-foot underground tunnel. Carolina plans to install a grinding operation in one building. The firm has been leasing the property since it began operations in June 2004.
While processors have struggled financially as resin prices continue their upward trend, Friedman said Carolina has thrived by taking advantage of recycled materials and making products with a high rubber content.
``It's a unique opportunity,'' he said. ``Rubber is the teens, compared to resin, which is pushing $1. That's enabling us to stretch our resin and reducing cost for our customers.''
The company uses a range of polyolefins. One of its products is a mounting pad for satellite dishes - a product that's 70 percent rubber. Some floor-matting products are half rubber, he said.
Meantime, Friedman has become an advocate for North Carolina manufacturing.
``We're very happy with our North Carolina location,'' he said. ``It's a good, dedicated workforce.''
Friedman was courted by North Carolina economic development officials, who asked him to set up shop near Charlotte. North Carolina had banned rubber tires from landfills, and Gaston County was looking for new businesses to offset lost textile jobs.
Carolina Materials received a $983,000 grant from the state's Scrap Tire Disposal Account as well as county assistance in its search for a modern manufacturing plant.