PEI Worldwide Inc. plans to build composite insulating building blocks made of 85 percent recycled polystyrene and cement at a facility it will open by March in Ada, Okla.
“We're jumping in with both feet,” said Gifford Ludwigsen, PEI president and CEO, in a telephone interview. “It's taken us three years to get off the ground. Our first plant will be in Ada and we're looking at others.”
According to Ludwigsen, an architect, he has developed a technology and machinery to produce the Thura-Block material, which can stand up to earthquakes, floods and tornados. It is able to withstand winds of up to 260 miles an hour, he said.
The blocks will be able to reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent over traditional construction methods, PEI said. They are competitive with traditional wood-frame construction and can be installed in any weather.
Ludwigsen said he looked in Texas, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma for potential plants and decided the one in Oklahoma provided the right fit.
PEI partnered with Ada Jobs Foundation, the city's nonprofit economic development arm, to gain Proposition 2 funds and purchase a vacant building formerly used by Remington, according to a news release.
Under the agreement, PEI will invest more than $6 million in machinery. PEI plans to employ up to 75 people the first year and expand to 275 within three years.
The company also will be partnering with East Central University's Veterans Workforce Investment Program to hire employees for manufacturing, sales and installation positions.
“I am interested in taking care of the veterans, particularly all those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ludwigsen said.
PEI headquarters is in Allen, Texas, and currently employs 9.
The Ada plant will make other products that Ludwigsen said he will announce in the future. He said he is working on other ventures that will tailor the technology for other uses such as insulating underground hot water pipes.