Mountain Valley Recycling LLC is buying its sister company, NextLife LLC, and will open a second plastics recycling plant, this one in Sterling Heights, Mich., in the first quarter of next year.
I was looking to expand on the West Coast, but Michigan was very, very proactive and put together an attractive package, said Ronald Whaley, president and CEO of Mountain Valley. Michigan was extremely aggressive about getting us there.
MVR is based in Boca Raton, Fla., and in August opened a new plastics recycling plant in Frankfort, Ky., which replaced a now-shuttered plant in Morristown, Tenn.
In a Nov. 3 interview at Pack Expo in Chicago, Whaley said the Michigan Economic Growth Authority gave Mountain Valley a state tax credit of $5.1 million over the next seven years as an incentive. He said the most likely site for the plant will be a former Ford Motor Co. plant in Sterling Heights, which is roughly 280,000 square feet.
The Michigan plant, at full capacity, will have six recycling lines and the capacity to reprocess 90 million pounds of plastic the same profile as the company's Frankfort plant, according to Whaley, a former Solo Cup Co. executive who joined MVR in early 2009.
At capacity, the Michigan plant will employ roughly 300, he said the same number that Frankfort expects to employ at full capacity.
Whaley said the new plant represents an investment of $20 million, compared with the $9.5 million investment at Frankfort. The difference between the two is the dollar amount needed for equipment. Mountain Valley was able to move equipment from its shuttered Morristown plant into the Frankfort plant.
We are at about 30 percent of capacity right now at Frankfort, with two recycling lines up and running and 100-150 workers, Whaley said. Our expectation is that we will be at full capacity at Frankfort by the end of the year or sometime in the first quarter of next year.
Whaley also said Mountain Valley is continuing its site search on the West Coast and ideally would like to have the site nailed down next year. We have an aggressive growth strategy. But he added that the top priority right now is getting the Frankfort and Sterling Heights plants up and running.
The acquisition of NextLife, a consultant and advisory business that does life-cycle analysis and helps companies find sustainable solutions through the use of recycled resins, will be completed by the end of November, he said.
There will be some management changes, Whaley said, without elaborating.
Currently, NextLife works with manufacturing partners such as Cascade Engineering Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Dell Inc. to create products such as ink cartridges, industrial pallets and aesthetic rain barrels from recycled resins. NextLife also has an agreement with Ciba Expert Services of Basil, Switzerland, with regard to life-cycle analysis work. Ciba is part of resin and chemical company BASF SE.
Whaley said he expects the acquisition of NextLife to further help Mountain Valley provide services to potential customers.
Their strength is their science. They are very good at helping people develop product campaigns based on science. We will now be better positioned to help our customers and provide turnkey solutions to consumer packaged-goods companies.
'We are excited about this acquisition because NextLife has established itself as a strong brand, Whaley said.
His aspirations, he said, are to help people better understand how they can be sustainable and understand the economic value and jobs that recycling brings to a community.
We are not your traditional recycler, he added, in that Mountain Valley wants to show people the good aspects of plastics when used responsibly.
We want to do this one customer, one municipality at a time and get people to take a different view of their own responsibility for plastics.
Investment firm Laser Partners GP LLC, also in Boca Raton, has been the majority owner of Mountain Valley since late 2009. Eric Weisman, co-founder and managing partner in Laser Partners, is also chairman of NextLife.