Microtherm Inc. coming to Blount
By Robert Norris | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
An international firm specializing in thermal insulation is opening manufacturing and office operations in Partnership Park South in Blount County.
Microtherm Inc., a subsidiary of the Etex Group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, announced Tuesday it will move into the Blount Partnership spec building at 1731 Fred Lawson Drive in Maryville.
Microtherm anticipates employing a workforce of least 40 by the end of 2014, including a dozen office positions with the balance being machine operators, including some sewing/textile skills, press operators, mixing machines, hand labor and maintenance.
Production is slated to begin this summer with more positions added as various equipment and processes are added over the next two years.
The initial investment will be $3 million in 2013 and 2014.
“The decision to locate in Blount County was due to the quality of the spec building the community built, competitive labor rates and the central location to our customers and raw materials,” Bill Gregg, Microtherm general manager, said in a statement.
Operating within Etex’s Promat International business group, Microtherm manufactures a specialty insulation known worldwide as the most efficient insulation for high-temperature processes, according to the company.
Bryan Daniels, Blount Partnership president/CEO, attested to the effectiveness of the Microtherm product.
“You can put a blow torch on one side of a thin piece of insulation and you don’t feel any heat. It’s pretty impressive,” he said.
Microtherm is used to save energy, control heat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in petrochemical plants, molten-metal processing and power-generation systems including fuel cells, solar, nuclear and traditional fuels.
In addition to producing the Microtherm products, the firm handles the U.S. distribution of Promat products that are used as fire protection for marine, tunnel and building construction. Microtherm also is used in vacuum insulation panels for refrigeration and building insulation.
Daniels said the project has been in the works for about seven months.
“This was us reaching out to them and trying to find them a location. They were in the market and interested,” he said. “It was just good timing for both parties.”
The announcement comes at the start of a new year on top of a couple of positive years for job growth in Blount County.
“The past two years have been phenomenal, and January of 2013 is really starting to break open for us. Our economy is very strong,” Daniels said. “Every one of our companies and headquarters is back to full employment — back to where we were before the recession.”
The unemployment rate in Blount County, in the most recently available figures, was at 5.2 percent in November 2012, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The last time the county’s unemployment rate was lower was in December 2007 when the rate was 5 percent.
Thumbs up from state
Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty gave thumbs up to this latest job news.
“Congratulations to Microtherm on this announcement, and thank you for your investment in our state. I couldn’t be more pleased with the levels of capital investment we are seeing flow into Tennessee right now,” Hagerty said.
“It is especially gratifying for our state to be selected by a global company like the Etex Group for the site of their new Microtherm operations and speaks highly of our state’s business-friendly climate and educated workforce.”
Gregg said Microtherm was already acquainted with Blount County because of the company’s relationship with another international manufacturer that produces a specialized product in Maryville.
“It is also a familiar location to us having been a sister company to Ceramaspeed with its engineering and distribution presence for several years.”
In August 2012, Ceramaspeed Inc., a world leader in the provision of electric radiant heating solutions for the glass ceramic appliance market, announced it was starting manufacturing operations in a 55,000-square-foot Blount County Industrial Park building in Maryville.
“We are excited that Microtherm has made a solid investment in this area and we could provide them a facility to move into,” said Joe Dawson, chair of the Blount Partnership Economic Development Board.
“As we continue to move forward in our recruitment of new businesses, we can show them that this is a thriving area by the fact that nearly 1,800 jobs have been created and there’s been $117 million in capital investment over the past 2½ years.”
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said having a move-in-ready building “really helped seal the deal” for the Blount Partnership.
“We have to make Blount County attractive to outside companies and having sites
ready to move into or build make it easier to recruit. Microtherm saw the value in it and that’s
part of what helped make this venture happen.”
“I am very pleased to see these jobs coming to Blount County,” said state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville. “Blount County is a great location for new and expanding businesses. I congratulate Microtherm, state and local officials who helped secure these jobs.”
Etex, with headquarters in Belgium, manufactures and sells building materials and solutions in 44 countries, operates 121 production sites and employs more than 17,000 people worldwide.
The group’s activities encompass small and large roofing elements, dry construction solutions based on boards in fibre cement and plaster, integrated systems of passive fire protection and high-performance insulation and ceramic floor and wall tiles.