New kind of lumber company poised to set up shop in Key building

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

The Key apparel building, located beneath the Austin Boulevard overpass will soon be bustling with activity again. Dave Brown and Steve Wheeler told the city council Tuesday night that they plan to open a new manufacturing business in this building and to help move the project along they asked the council to assist them in applying for a loan through the Community Development Block Grant program. The council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the loan application on the behalf of Green Forest Engineering Products LLC. The city will not be responsible for repaying the loan, which will be used for part of the start-up capital for the company. The company will be manufacturing an extruded composite product made of wood sawdust and recycled plastic, similar to the plastic waste generated by 3M, that will be water and insect resistant and can be used in place of treated lumber. Wheeler, Green Forest president, told the council that this is an environmentally friendly product that has no wood preservatives like pressure treated lumber contains. There is currently a $900 million market for this product, which is usually used for deck boards and railings, Dave Brown, Green Forest vice president, told the council. "We're looking for niche markets outside the deck and rail market," Brown said. The market for this product has been growing 25 percent per year for the last five years and is expected to continue growing at that rate for at least the next year, Brown told the council. Brown informed the council that they hope to be in the building by mid-September and shipping products by the end of the year. They plan to start with two extruders and eight employees and within the first year expand to a 24-hour operation with 13 employees. The start-up operation will be capable of producing up to four million linear feet of product per year. During the second year they plan to add a third extruder and 10 employees and by the end of the third year they expect to employ 34 people. "We think this market is going to be huge," Wheeler told the council. The problem is going to be controlling how fast the business grows, he said. "We may be able to expand to 34 employees sooner than planned," he said. The jobs at the plant will offer competitive wages as well as a benefit package including a 401K plan.

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