Trex Co. of Winchester, Virginia, a composite decking manufacturer, said Tuesday that it will invest $400 million in a plant that will employ 500 people at the Little Rock Port.
The plant will be the publicly traded company's third U.S. manufacturing facility, sitting on 290 acres of port land. The company said the property will eventually include buildings dedicated to decking and railing production, plastic film recycling and processing, reclaimed wood storage, warehousing and administrative offices.
Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2022 with production beginning in 2024.
"This new site represents a strategic investment not only in our company’s future but in the future success of our valued channel partners," President and CEO Bryan Fairbanks said in a news release. "With the outdoor living category continuing to show strong momentum and our success to-date in converting share from the wood decking market, the time is right to further expand our capacity so that we can meet future customer demand efficiently and effectively."
Video: Watch the announcement here.
Arkansas is a major forest products industry hub, with abundant timber resources primarily in south Arkansas. Trex said Little Rock was the best fit for the company's needs because of its proximity to raw materials, a pool of "qualified and skilled labor," "proximity to key growth regions for wood conversion" and adjacency to transportation hubs. It said the plant should increase the company's ability to meet "anticipated strong demand" for its decking and railing products.
He said during the announcement that he expects the Little Rock location “our largest operating facility in time as well” because the acreage at the port offers the company room to grow.
Trex qualified for the following state incentives, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission: $10 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, a $400,00 customized training grant, Tax Back, Create Rebate and a sales tax exemption on equipment. Tax Back provides a sales and use tax refund for eligible expenditures, and Create Rebate is a cash rebate based on the company's annual payroll for new employees.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the announcement called Trex a good fit for the state. He touted that it is an “environmentally friendly” company and one of the fastest-growing in the country.
Trex says its decking is made from 95% recycled materials, including a mix of reclaimed wood scrap and discarded plastic film. It is one of the largest recyclers of polyethylene in North America.
Trex opened its first production lines in Virginia in 1993 with 36 employees. It now has more than 1,700 employees worldwide. Its decking products are available in more than 6,700 retail outlets in more than 40 countries.
The company said it will begin interviewing candidates for "key positions" this fall and broaden its search for salaried and hourly positions in the spring. It will post information about those jobs at https://careers.trex.com.
Fairbanks told Arkansas Business after Tuesday’s announcement that starting pay for those jobs will be around $60,000 and they’ll come with medical and 401K benefits.
He said Trex would be hiring line technicians, maintenance technicians and supervisors, including a plant manager.