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Outdoor furniture maker to open Person plant, creating nearly 400 jobs

October 17, 2018 GMT

An Indiana company that turns recycled plastic into outdoor furniture plans to open a manufacturing plant and distribution center in Person County, creating 384 jobs within five years, officials said Tuesday.

Polywood plans to invest $35.3 million in the Roxboro operation, its first manufacturing site outside its base in Syracuse, Ind. The payroll for the new plant and distribution hub will total $14.2 million, officials said, and average salaries will be above the Person County average of $38,875.

“I just can’t imagine myself ever retiring and needing a rocking chair, but if I do, it’ll be a Polywood,” Gov. Roy Cooper joked at an event in a Timberlake restaurant to announce the new jobs.

Doug Rassi, who founded Polywood with a high school friend and now serves as chief executive officer, harkened back to the iconic television ad of the Keep America Beautiful campaign of the 1970s in which a Native American cries at the mounds of litter cluttering the landscape.

“It was a message of stewardship, and it was a message of concern for the condition that we’re going to leave this beautiful country of ours to future generations,” Rassi said.

The two friends decided to recycle plastic milk jugs into a synthetic lumber and create chairs, tables and other items that could withstand outdoor elements. Polywood and similar products now comprise the fastest-growing segment of the outdoor furniture industry, Rassi said.

Some of Polywood’s first customers were beach home rentals along North Carolina’s coast, he said.

“That is a tough environment, let me tell you. It’s a true proving ground for the endurance of a product,” he said. “It seems quite fitting to be opening our second major full-scale production right here in North Carolina, a state with a reputation and deep history with furniture.”

Polywood qualified for a Job Development Investment Grant of up to $3.3 million over 12 years. The JDIG refunds a portion of the state withholding taxes from the new jobs to the company, provided it meets annual hiring and investment targets.

The Roxboro operation also will house a reclamation center for all types of recycled plastics, officials said. The materials will be processed and reused in on-site manufacturing and sold to others using recycled plastics.