Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The thread that connects Walker County to the nation’s RV and boating industries will grow stronger in the coming months as Syntec expands its operations in LaFayette.
“We are so pleased that Syntec chose to expand its LaFayette plant,” Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said last week, as company and local officials gathered at the Probasco Street plant. “We have been working with Syntec for several months now ironing out a few wrinkles that stood in the way of their plans.”
Syntec, which is headquartered in Rome, bought the local Color Spectrum plant in 2007. Its facility consists of two buildings, each of which had electric power provided by separate companies.
Negotiations with the company, county and city that led to Syntec’s expansion included consolidation of that utility. In addition, the plant is being granted five years of tax abatements.
Another benefit, already in place, is provided by the county’s 100-percent Freeport Exemption designation, which means inventory is untaxed.
Syntec makes a variety of carpet products for nonconventional uses, including the marine, recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries. The company also provides yarn used for carpeting by the hospitality industry and that is the main outlet for the LaFayette plant’s output.
Tom Watters, Syntec’s chief operating officer, said the flooring industry has been hard hit by the recession but the demand for his firm’s product remains.
“Quite a lot of maintenance on existing hotels was deferred,” he said. “You [hotels and motels] either renovate or go out of business.”
To meet that rising demand, Syntec is installing about $2.5 million of equipment and will soon add 60 workers to the 120 already employed at its LaFayette plant.
“Those jobs will primarily be in twisting and heat setting operations,” Watters said. “We don’t anticipate any problems in filling these job openings.”
Hiring new workers will occur gradually during the next six months as construction work at the “south” plant allows expansion of operations.
Chip Catlett of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce said many individuals and groups — elected officials, the local development authority and the Chamber — worked together as a team to make last week’s announcement possible.
“I’m glad they remained in LaFayette,” said Neal Florence, that city’s mayor. “It took the work of many to make this happen.”