WOONSOCKET, R.I. (May 15, 12:50 p.m. ET) — Compounder Plastics Group of
Woonsocket-based PGA plans to be occupying part of the 240,000 square-foot building by the end of the year. The complex was built between 1907 and 1925 and operated for many years as the Jules Desurmont Worsted Mill.
PGA is buying the site from a California-based real estate development company. PGA officials declined to disclose the purchase price of the property, which includes almost seven acres of land along the
PGA President Bob Lebeaux said in a May 15 phone interview that although he had been aware of the site for several years, he found it to be “in better shape than I thought it was,” when he toured the facility.
“It needs sprinklers and a new electrical system, but overall it wasn't too bad, considering how long ago it was built,” he added.
Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine added in a news release that city officials “appreciate PGA's commitment to the city, and value them as a business neighbor that contributes to our city's commercial growth on an ongoing basis.”
He also commended PGA on its safety record, pointing out that the firm “has repeatedly been recognized at both the state and federal levels for their commitment to worker safety.”
The mill building is located about a mile away from PGA's 65,000 square-foot plant, which is almost maxed out for space. PGA has been leasing 13,000 square feet of nearby warehousing space because of the crunch.
Lebeaux said that after the new site opens, PGA will use it for warehousing and recycling, freeing up the existing plant for production work. Doing so will allow PGA to install an additonal twin-screw extruder at its existing site. The new line should be up and running by the end of the year, Lebeaux said.
PGA could be using the mill site by Oct. 1, he added. The expansion will create 10-15 new jobs. PGA currently employs about 45.
The mill building had stood vacant for about eight years, since it was used as warehousing space by local companies. It last was used for manufacturing about 20 years ago when it was occupied by luggage maker American Tourister.
The site is listed on the National Register and is eligible for state preservation grants for historic rehabilitation products. The structure includes full-width segmental arch or rectangular window openings, brick corbelling near cornices and protruding sills.
“It gives us a great deal of pleasure to be involved with the restoration of such a magnificent complex,” Lebeaux said in the release. “Especially returning it to its manufacturing roots, as opposed to converting it to another use, a fate which has befallen far too may majestic buildings like these in recent years.”
Acquiring the site took a bit longer than expected for PGA expected because of its convoluted ownership. In recent years, an investment group that included investors from
A local businessman also at one point claimed that he owned the site because he had bought its tax title. The businessman announced plans to use the site for used car auctions, but his ownership claim later was ruled invalid.
Two similar closed factories along the
Lebeaux founded scrap reseller Ralco Industries Inc. in nearby
PGA has annual sales of about $30 million, generating more than half of its business from Polifil-brand filled polypropylene compounds. Major end markets for Polifil include food packaging, medical and trays.