A Massachusetts logistics company says it decided to launch a new operation in the Lowcountry to take advantage of the global demand for U.S.-produced plastic materials.
Mid-States Packaging invested $5.2 million to establish a manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operation at 4500 Goer Drive in North Charleston.
The facility mostly will handle plastic resin pellets coming from petrochemical plants in the Gulf Coast region, particularly from Texas and Louisiana. Those pellets are used in hundreds of consumer products, including plastic bags, water bottles, bins, totes and medical devices.
Mid-States Packaging President Chuck Giroux said he sees huge opportunities in exporting plastic pellets as worldwide demand for the material grows.
“The United States, with its natural gas, is a low-cost manufacturer of those pellets in the world today,” Giroux said. “The production of polyethylene is going to be — within the next two to three years — four times what the current production is, so there’s more being made in the U.S. today than can be consumed at current rates, so we see it as a big export play.”
The third-party logistics company primarily performs warehousing and packaging services for plastic companies. Manufacturers will send their products to the facility, and the company will package and ready the materials to ship overseas. The process is repeated in reverse for imports.
The plastic pellets will arrive via a revived, on-site Norfolk Southern rail line. About 30 workers will handle the unloading and packaging of the product to ready it for export to world markets.
Giroux said that chemical giants like Chevron, Dow and Exxon Mobil are building plastic pellet plants in response to the country’s natural gas boom and that the Port of Charleston wants to capture much of that export traffic.
He said Europe will be the biggest market for the plastic pellets coming through his company’s new logistics facility, followed by Asia and Latin America.
“Our customers had a desire to go there (Charleston). There is a big export boom with the addition of polyethylene and natural gas, and the Port of Charleston was very creative and supportive of us. They have the ability to handle the new Panamax containerships,” Giroux said. “We have a location in New York as well, so our philosophy was to have a Southeast solution and a Northeast solution … to provide those export and import services for the market with those two locations.”
Mid-States Packaging is currently occupying about 100,000 square feet of the 300,00 available square feet in two buildings along Goer Drive.
Goer Drive Investors, an affiliate of Boston-based GFI Partners, bought the property in December for $8.5 million. The site needed extensive renovations and on-site rail. Work is about a quarter of the way finished, said William Deshler, GFI’s chief operating partner.
“The property was the former Goer Manufacturing site that, at its peak, employed hundreds; however, over the past few years, it remained idle and in need of significant repair and capital upgrades,” Deshler said in an email. “We ... realized its potential to once again become a thriving commerce center given its proximity to the rail, the port and major highways. GFI and Colliers (International) rebranded the site as Montague Commerce Park and set about a capital investment plan to bring the property back to its full potential.”
Wyse Logistics, Mid-States Packaging and Rewined Candles currently occupy space in the buildings. Mid-States can expand its square footage in the future depending on the market, Giroux said.
Giroux and his sister, Tracy, are fourth-generation owners of Mid-States Packaging, which now has 14 locations across the U.S. Hiring will begin in the third quarter for 30 positions at the North Charleston site.
Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.