ROCKINGHAM — Yet another Richmond County manufacturer is planning to expand and add new jobs.
Richmond County Economic Developer Martie Butler announced Thursday afternoon that Direct Pack, Inc. will construct a new 200,000 square-foot building to house a PET — polyethylene terephthalate, a recyclable plastic used in packaging — wash line that “will process recycled PET bottles and thermoforms” bought from material recovery facilities from the Carolinas and Georgia.
The expansion is expected to bring 100 new jobs with custom training at Richmond Community College, according to Craig Snedden, president of DPI.
Direct Pack already has PET washing facilities in Guadalajara and Mexicali, Mexico, according to Butler.
The press release states:
DPI will put clean washed flake back into food packaging, receiving about 75 truckloads/month of baled post-consumer recycled PET bottles and thermoforms from local MRFs. The economic merit of this project is unique in that our existing extrusion and thermoform plant across the street will use the clean washed flake that we produce from this wash line. In addition, DPI’s recognized brand customers like Driscolls, NatureSweet and others demand the use of clean washed flake in their new food packaging which has resulted in 25% growth each year for DPI in the use of clean washed flake.
“Direct Pack, Inc. is excited to expand our partnership with Richmond County to include our circular model of making PET food packaging from local recycled PET,” Snedden said in a statement. “The state-of-the-art wash line we will build adjacent to our food packaging extrusion and thermoform plant will allow us to make our own clean wash flake from local recycled PET bottles and clamshells, instead of having it trucked in from outside the area.
“This full circle is complete when we sell new food packaging to recognized national brand customers,” Snedden continued. “Additionally, this wash line provides environmental benefits like no emissions and instead reduces greenhouse gas and conserving the forest on the property will further reduce greenhouse gas.”
The Rockingham plant serves as DPI’s hub on the East Coast.
In 2016, California-based DPI acquired the building near the Richmond County Airport formerly occupied by Trane and Industrial Sheet Metal. The doors opened the following year and the company added 56,000 square feet in 2021.
“We would like to thank (the) Richmond County Board of Commissioners and their team, Bryan Land and Martie Butler for helping us create this circular economy,” Snedden said.
County Manager Bryan Land said the new addition will give DPI roughly 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space.
“I’m ecstatic to see continuous growth here in Richmond County,” Land said. “The growth we have experienced this year, firmly secures Richmond County as a leading community in business and manufacturing.”
That growth includes the expansion of American Woodmark and the acquisition of VBC by Cavco Industries, both announcements made within the past month.
The year’s first major announcement was the acquisition of the Rockingham Wade Manufacturing plant by Mount Vernon Mills.
“We’re having a phenomenal year,” Commissioner Justin Dawkins, the board’s vice chairman, said in a statement. “The success we’re seeing with job and investment growth in Richmond County is reflective of hard work, strong leadership, and steadfast commitment of our team.”
Like Snedden, Dawkins thanked Land and Butler, as well as Rep. Ben Moss, “for their vision and leadership by establishing a thriving business corridor along Airport Road.”
“We recognize the daily work of our team: growing and maintaining strong relationships with companies, partnering with North Carolina agencies and relationships with our legislators — all result in the string of success that we are seeing today.”
Note: This story was edited to correct the size of the facility. 6:39 p.m. 11-3-22