Kiwanians hear from Polywood officials

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At the Aug. 19 meeting of the Roxboro Kiwanis Club at La Piazza restaurant in Uptown Roxboro, Dave Grider and Stacey DeBaun, general manager and plant administrator, respectively, of Polywood, LLC at 3300 Jim Thorpe Highway, updated the club on its progress. Grider explained that he ran international and domestics operations for Gabriel Ride Control before coming to Polywood. He was contacted by the Polywood president about the possibility of heading up a new operation.

He was living in Savannah, Georgia, at the time, but was encouraged to move to Indiana. He regarded this as a deal breaker, so he agreed instead to do some consulting work to help the company with securing plastics. When the decision was made to open a second operation, his interest renewed.

Site identification covered the southeastern United States, and Roxboro was the first place visited. Grider recalled that he was really pleased with the condition of the facility, formerly occupied by Force Protection. What was most impressive was the invitation of the Person County Economic Development Commission to come back, at which time a group presentation consisted of elected officials, and representatives from the N.C. Department of Commerce and Piedmont Community College. Grider said that he spent a couple of hours talking with them, and was impressed with the outpouring of support from the community.

While other locations were being considered, he returned here several times. The local support was really key to the decision to locate in Person County. This support level has continued to be outstanding as the business grows.

There are just over 60 employees at present, with more than 400 projected within three years, which would make it a three-shift operation. The company just installed the sixth manufacturing machine, enabling a product line that includes commercial furniture as well as residential. The intent is to mirror the Indiana operation and Grider noted that things are ahead of schedule here. The first products were shipped in March.

Polywood customers include all major retailers, some of which privately brand the products so that it is not obvious that this is Polywood. About 60% of its business is done on the east coast. There are four more machines due in September, which will complete Phase 1, and other 10 are anticipated by April of next year.

Grider emphasized that the product is truly American-made. It comes from recycled milk jugs and all the other raw materials are U. S. made as well. The furniture is guaranteed for 25 years. He characterized the labor force here as incredible, and he believes that the county can provide labor for additional new companies as well. The work ethic of the employees is exemplary. Turnover is nominal and the employees are reliable.

There will be a ribbon cutting on Nov. 7. The goal of Polywood is to hire people who are respectful and who treat others with respect. Faith is a large part of the company philosophy.

According to Grider, 60 percent of its raw materials are recycled milk jugs, coming from companies like Waste Management and Republic. A partnership with the county recycling operation is also being discussed. To provide perspective, Grider noted that it takes 688 milk jugs to make a standard size chair. Polywood will make cushions, pillows and other accessories locally as well.

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