BEDFORD, Va.—Rubber will reign again at a former rubber manufacturing plant with more than 200,000 square feet of space.
Valley Processing Inc. announced in mid-June that it is expanding its operations in Virginia by opening a plant in Bedford. It is expected to start with about 30 employees at the site, with the potential to grow to more than 200 employees in a few years, said Steve Sharp, who heads business development for the company.
Valley Processing is a custom mixer of elastomeric compounds and also provides calender service for global clients in such industries as automotive and construction. Annual revenues for the company, head¬quar¬¬tered in City of Industry, Calif., are approaching $50 million, Sharp said.
"This acquisition positions us to serve customers even more effectively in the Southeast, Northeast and Ohio Valley/Midwest," Sharp said. "Valley Processing already has a solid position in varied categories requiring highly engineered, high- performance rubber compounds such as electrical, oil field, under-the-hood automotive, heavy equipment, mining, construction, durable goods and more."
He said the Virginia facility gives the firm a stronger presence in several of these categories.
As part of Gran Tee Investments, Valley Processing purchased the 10 acres of land that houses the former Rubatex facility in June 2012 for nearly $700,000 as part of a bankruptcy transaction. The factory had been stripped of wiring and electric equipment, but the buyers felt the plant and location were ideal for Valley Processing, said Owner and CEO Ted Ballou.
Valley Processing Virginia is running qualifying trials for customers throughout July, and the facility is expected to increase the company's capacity in the eastern U.S.
"With over 10 acres of land and 200,000 square feet of factory space, Valley Processing Virginia is poised and ready to grow for years to come," Ballou said in a statement.
"The facility is actively qualifying compounds for customers as we speak; we have begun shipping, and will ramp up further in July and through the summer," Sharp said.
The new plant will have a significant impact on the Bedford region, a city hit hard by a U.S. manufacturing recession in the early 2000s. The former Rubatex plant was one of the major employers in town, producing a number of pressed and foam rubber products, until it closed in 2004. Sedo Chemicals reopened the facility on a smaller scale before closing in 2010.
During this time, the population of Bedford shrunk by nearly half, forcing local leaders to seek changes that would allow the city to become a town. Valley Processing is hoping to hire as many locals to the facility as possible, with as-needed training and support provided by experienced employees in its California headquarters.
"The bulk of the current Bedford work force is comprised of former Rubatex employees. Ideally, all of our employees in the Virginia facility will be from the local Bedford community," Sharp said.