A good start

Industrial park’s first occupant is a Polish glass company

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Press Glass will produce window glass for high-rise buildings
at its Henry County plant. Photo courtesy Press Glass

The announcement that Poland-based Press Glass would invest $43.55 million to establish a 280,000-square-foot factory in Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre marked a milestone for Martinsville and Henry County. The flat-glass processing company will be the park’s first business.

“All the work that went into Commonwealth Crossing set the stage. In our part of the world, having a fully developed site and buildings is job one,” says Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. “Without Commonwealth Crossing, we would never have talked to them. It was a value proposition for them because it saved them site development and cost.”

The 720-acre park, with graded lots, rail service and full utilities, is the result of a decade of preparation. “We won this project because of the work we’ve done over the last 10 years,” says Heath.

The EDC learned of Press Glass’ desire to expand its U.S. operations from local entrepreneur Bobby Lankford, the owner of Stone Dynamics in Martinsville. He sold his North Carolina company, Glass Dynamics, to Press Glass about two years ago.

Heath and Henry County Administrator Tim Hall traveled to Press Glass’ current site in North Carolina to learn about the company’s needs.

Press Glass’ management had researched Henry County and Commonwealth Crossing and knew exactly what they wanted and “where they wanted to be,” says Hall. “In my first meeting with Maciej Migalski, president of Press Glass, North America, he said, ‘We want to put the facility in Henry County.’”

The company selected Commonwealth Crossing for a variety of reasons, including its location, easy access to interstates and land availability. The Henry County site was larger and better positioned than one the company was considering in North Carolina.

“It is a fully developed site that met all their needs,” Heath says. “Plus, it is relatively close to where they are located in North Carolina, only five miles away.”

Poczesna, Poland-based Press Glass is the largest independent flat-glass processing operation in Europe, with 2,100 employees at 11 manufacturing plants.

The company processes glass for manufacturers of windows and doors, façades, solar and photovoltaic panels and other products. It will produce sections of window glass for high-rise buildings at the Commonwealth Crossing facility.

Heath and Hall traveled to Poland last May to visit the company for about a week. “We wanted to see the company and its facilities so we could see if it would be a good fit,” says Hall. “We were convinced this is a good company that we would have a connection with and the community would, too.”

During their visit, they met with company owner and CEO Tomasz Wozowicz. “We got to know him and his team,” Hall says. “What was so impressive to me was the team’s longevity. All of them had been with the company for 10 to 15 years. They were very tight knit and well versed in what they did.”

Heath and Hall toured a couple of the company’s plants while they were in Poland.  “We wanted to educate ourselves on how they did business there and what their plants were like,” Heath says. “We developed a good relationship.”

The Commonwealth Crossing project, which will create 212 jobs, was announced in September. The site for the plant is being prepared. “We’ve had a horrible fall and winter weather wise,” says Hall. “They are working pretty hard right now and making some progress. They want to be in production by this December, and that is what we are shooting for.”

In late spring, company employees will be trained at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Training, which is adjacent to the Press Glass site. Patrick Henry Community College is creating the curriculum. “The training is done exclusively for our clients,” Hall says.

Landing this type of project is a real plus for the county and Commonwealth Crossing. “It means a lot. It adds to our international presence,” Hall says. “The company is the first client in our premium business park. They’ve shown the faith to come, and hopefully it will be easier to get a second client.”

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