EnviraGlass purchases Heritage Glass, bringing 100 full-time jobs

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) - After a year of uncertainly, a company is reopening a manufacturing plant in Kingsport, bringing with it 100 jobs.

Today EnviraGlass announced it will buy the Heritage Glass facility in Kingsport.

Friday morning the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman gave final approval to a deal with EnviraGlass to reopen the former Heritage Glass company which shut down last May.

The city owns the building on Lincoln Street and offered investors five years with no property taxes as an incentive to set up shop.

We found out some former Heritage Glass employees continued working at the plant, without pay, to keep it up and running all in hopes a day like this would eventually come.

"We've had more or less what I call a skeleton crew in here that's given their time and without pay may I say. So it's been a struggle but they've maintained focus all of us has and worked diligently to keep this thing afloat," Former Heritage Glass employee Mark Mcglothlin said.

Mcglothlin said he kept working to ensure glass manufacturing stayed in Kingsport.

"It's just in the blood, a lot of us here have been in the glass making business for years, we've got generations of families that's working here right now," Mcglothlin said

"One of the things my partners and I have seen that's probably the most amazing is the fact that people have been diligent, they've been working on anything they could do on the hopes that someone would come in and restart this plant," EnviraGlass CEO Chris Taylor said.

Kingsport's Mayor John Clark said he is confident EnviraGlass will not only survive, but grow.

"This time I think what's different is the new management team, the business plan that they have, at the same time the fact that they have these customer commitments in place and they have much more financial backing on their own," Clark said.

Taylor said Heritage glass coming in first actually gives EnviraGlass advantages. Approval for supplying glass is already in place, and a customer base.

"One of the big boxes we had to have checked before we would make the investment was that we would have over 50 percent of the capacity booked or verbally written commitment for, not only a price, but also a volume so that we knew that coming in, if you make it, somebody's going to buy it," Taylor said.

Friday, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman approved up to $3.8 million to the Kingsport Economic Development Board for improvements for the building.

Taylor said the facility is set to be up and running by September. He said initially they will hire about 100 employees and eventually plan to hire an additional 150 employees.

A Kingsport glass manufacturer company confirmed Friday morning that an agreement has been reached to have its assets purchased by EnviraGlass, a Tennessee-based company.

According to a news release, the facility will employ 104 full-time employees and around 30 contractors in the first production phase.

Officials said in the next 90 days steps will be taken to refurbish the facility before restarting the glass furnace.

According to the release, the plant is the only U.S. manufacturer of solar glass.

The following is the full news release issued Friday morning:

The Heritage Glass Company has reached an agreement to have its assets purchased by a Tennessee Company, EnviraGlass.

In the first production phase, the facility will employ 104 full-time personnel and close to 30 contractors. The next 90 days will see a number of steps taken to refurbish the facility prior to restarting the glass furnace.

The Lincoln Street plant is the only US manufacturer of solar glass. Company officials say the commitment of former owners and employees who have continued to work since July 2015 to package and ship previously manufactured glass allowed the facility to operate long enough to bring new ownership and capital together to restart production.

"Without the efforts of Heritage Glass employees and board members, Vic Davis, Eric Kerney and Chris Cording, we wouldn't be here today," EnviraGlass CEO Chris Taylor said. "The employees often continued to work amid difficult financial circumstances out of commitment to the century long tradition of glass making in Kingsport. We are deeply indebted to the employees who kept the lights on long enough to bring in a new partner."

As Heritage Glass began to struggle with undercapitalization after purchasing the facility from AGC North America and restarting production, AccelNow Director John Campbell and Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable began searching for new investment capital to bolster the facilities.

From there, area legislators, including Reps. Bud Hulsey and Jon Lundberg as well as Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, met with potential investors and helped to facilitate training support from the State of Tennessee.

The production facility is being leased to EnviraGlass by the Kingsport Economic Development Board and the City of Kingsport.

"Understanding the importance of running at full capacity, we have been collaborating with solar manufacturers to have over 50 percent of current capacity booked before restarting the furnace" Taylor said. "As soon as plant refurbishment is completed, the facility will again operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This goes to show what can happen when an entire community pulls together to save jobs and attract new, outside investment dollars. We also want to thank Bill Dudney and the Kingsport Economic Development Board, Mayor John Clark, Miles Burden from the Chamber of Commerce and City Manager Jeff Fleming for their efforts to provide a new future for the plant."

A brief ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. today, Friday, May 27, 2016 unveiling EnviraGlass signage on the property, located at 1450 Lincoln Street."

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.


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