Plastics recycler Highlands Group Inc. is investing more than $1 million and expanding its operations with the relocation of its production facility from Johnson City, Tenn., to nearby Elizabethton, Tenn., owner and President Jeff Wade said.
Highlands, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., is currently running its 15,000-square-foot Johnson City plant while ramping up production at the new 50,000-square-foot facility, which is less than 20 miles away.
The changeover should be completed by the end of August, he said.
“We concentrate on commodity-grade resins. We also concentrate on direct suppliers,” Wade said in a recent telephone interview.
“We want to go directly to the suppliers and then sell to the end users.”
The company has been in Johnson City for nearly 15 years, but needed a larger facility. Wade said he looked locally first, but a drive through Elizabethton while going to see his son in college gave him another option.
He found a building that was in foreclosure and that had been a book warehouse. An investor agreed to buy the building if Wade signed a five-year lease. He did, and he was able to finance the deal privately.
Wade said Elizabethton offers warehouse space, plenty of electricity, dock space, high ceilings and room to grow — it is built on 6 acres of land.
While the deal was being worked out, the company used the building as a warehouse. Highlands has been stockpiling feedstock, installing equipment and waiting for new equipment to arrive.
Wade said the need for space was precipitated by a deal with a nationally known supplier of commodity resins that he declined to name. Wade said the deal made it necessary to process a minimum of 8,000 pounds of material an hour.
He said all 11 employees have made or are planning to make the move to the new location. The company also will hire five more employees.