A national pallet company announced Wednesday that it will open its newest facility in Dunn, creating an economic boost to the local manufacturing and business sector as it brings an expected 50 jobs to Harnett County. The announcement was made at 11 a.m. inside Dunn City Hall.
North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland said that Pallet Consultants will be setting up shop with a $3.7 million expansion project in a once-shuttered pallet factory near the Edgerton Industrial Park along U.S. Highway 301.
“This company selected Harnett County, it didn’t come by accident, they came because (the county) prepared for it,” Copeland said. “Harnett County has done the things to prepare for the new global economy and tons of companies. Logistics are a major thing, building pallets and the like. We’re excited about it and congratulations to Dunn.”
The company has already taken over the facility which is approximately 21,000 square feet on four acres and it has already started production with around 12 employees.
According to Pallet Consultants CEO Gus Gutierrez, the company will employee 50 team members over the next 30 to 60 days, with plans to extend the number of employees to around 70 to 80 in the future.
“Our forecast could be another 20 or 15 over the next 12 calendar months,” Gutierrez said.
In return, the state, county, city and Central Carolina Community College will provide several incentives.
The state is providing a $100,000 One North Carolina Grant to go along with $40,000 in training from CCCC and a five-year incremental tax break totaling just over $127,500 to the Pompano Beach, Florida-based company.
The county’s tax reduction is similar to the one given to KriGen Pharmaceuticals when it brought a manufacturing plant to Lillington earlier this year.
“It’s the same way we did with KriGen,” Assistant County Manager Coley Price said. “This is a One North Carolina grant, so we’ve got to go through a process that includes a public hearing. Then the incentives come back from what the city of Dunn and the county are doing. We’re excited because it’s going to clean up the area where the facility is located. You think about what’s happening, everything in this country runs on a pallet.”
Gutierrez said Dunn was a natural fit for the expansion based on its location along the Interstate 95 corridor. He said the plant will take old pallets and recycle them if possible. The company will also take unusable pallets and use them for parts to repair others.
“We picked Dunn and Harnett County because it was strategically located within the I-95 corridor,” Gutierrez said. “It makes it easier for us to hit the other cities north of here, Mebane, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem. This will be a hub that we’ll be using for those locations we are currently servicing out of our Georgia operation. So we’re going to bring that business here.”
The company also has locations in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He said the Dunn operation is more than just building pallets. The company will also be more conservative when it comes to the raw materials needed to make the 2 to 4 million pallets per facility, per quarter that the company creates, he said.
“We’re going to be recycling, which helps with the economic footprint,” he added. “We save 3 million trees a year by recycling the used pallets and the ones that cannot be repaired we take those boards and repair other pallets.”
Another attraction for Pallet Consultants was the large pool of applicants for the positions which will pay an average of $38,080 annually, which is above the county average of just over $33,000.
“To know we’ve got the response we got from 400 applicants early on in the game showed us there are people here that want to work,” he said. “They just need a 401K, they need health insurance, they need the right benefits and to work for the right company.”
Mayor Oscar Harris said the addition of the company to the Dunn business community is significant and highly welcomed.
“It’s a wonderful day in the city of Dunn,” Harris said. “It’s a great day. It’s an exciting day for Secretary Copeland to announce the landing of a $3.7 million investment in the infrastructure here and the inclusion of 50 new jobs that will pay in excess of $18 an hour on average over the next four to five years and we certainly appreciate that. We encourage him to expand and will help him in any way we can. We wish him the very best.”