SOUTHAMPTON, PA. (Aug. 11, 12:30 p.m. ET) — When many of its competitors were hunkering down preparing for the recession that reared its ugly head in 2009, NewAge Industries Inc. decided to invest in its people and products.
So it should come as no surprise that the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of rubber and plastic tubing has taken another step that some may perceive as a risk. But don't tell that to NewAge employees. As an employee-owned organization, the roughly 100 professionals at NewAge Industries own 30 percent of a 1-megawatt solar array system consisting of more than 4,000 solar panels. It is the sixth largest such solar array in the state.
The system went online in May and it is expected to generate half of the facility's annual electricity needs. It amounted to a $4.2 million investment that was offset in part by a $1 million state grant and a $1.2 million grant from the federal government.
The value to NewAge Industries is both environmental and financial, said CEO Ken Baker, who expects to receive positive payback on his company's investment within six years.
“The financials matched up, and we wanted to take the next step in our effort to become a green company,” Baker said.
The system allows employees to follow how much electricity is being generated by the solar panels, and in the current summer months the percentage of power coming from the sun is expected to be high, Baker said.
The solar array solution was designed by California-based Borrego Solar and all components that comprise the solar array were made in the United States.
It isn't the first example of NewAge Industries emphasizing environmentally friendly features.
It updated to more efficient lighting options throughout its manufacturing facility and warehouse and instituted a company-wide recycling program nearly four years ago. It also is purchasing high efficiency compressors and motors for its central air systems and installed 2 inches of solid roof insulation before adding in the solar panels earlier this year.
“We're kind of a contrarian type of organization because we tend to do things a little differently,” Baker said. While he wouldn't call that strategy “risk taking,” some of those policies have paid off so far.
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