County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson, Development Authority Chairman Bruce Yawn and a host of community and state leaders gathered last week to cut the ribbon on WL Plastics. The company is Bulloch County's newest industry.
They recently completed construction of a $12-million plant in the Gateway Industrial Park.
WL Plastics, headquartered in Ft. Worth, Texas, operates seven state-of-the-art manufacturing locations in North America. They are considered one of the most efficient producers of HDPE pressure pipe. The company produces a broad pipe product mix and focuses its main efforts on four industry segments: potable water, wastewater, oil and gas and industrial or mining. WL also participates in geothermal, landfill and nuclear market segments, as well as natural gas distribution piping and export markets.
The road to Statesboro was a long and winding one according to Mike Dahl, director of Pipe Manufacturing for WL Plastics.
"We had narrowed the site selection down to nine locations in Georgia and Florida," he said. "We were in Georgia doing site visits when Doug Coffee, business recruitment director for Georgia Power, suggested that we take a look at the Statesboro site," Dahl said.
"We had very specific needs for the site itself, including proximity to a port and access by rail. We narrowed the site selection down in the end to Lake City, Florida and Statesboro," he said. "The sites were similar, but the hospitality of Statesboro and belief that they would follow through for us in the end won us over."
Jean Bartels was interim president at Georgia Southern University during the selection process and she made a big impression on Dahl and Mark Wasson, CEO of WL - She hosted them for a "home cooked" meal in her conference room. Soon after, they announced Statesboro as the site choice and immediately began construction.
In November, WL Plastics announced the sale of the company to Ineos O&P USA which is the lead provider of raw material inputs for pipe they manufacture. Dennis Seith, CEO of Ineos, expressed his excitement about doing business in Statesboro.
Construction began in May 2016 and almost all of the construction was completed by local contractors in eight months. Wasson praised local engineer Joey Maxwell of Maxwell Engineering for leading the engineering, Pope Construction, D&S Electric, SACK Company and Ellis Wood for their involvement in the project.
WL currently has about 20 employees, with two more lines being installed now. Once that is complete they should increase to 40 employees with an average salary of $15.80 per hour. They had more than 500 people apply for the initial 20 jobs.