Company gets belated formal welcome to Lenoir

Owner says growth, hiring ongoing
Aug. 28, 2014 @ 08:59 AM

Each day, the 130 employees at Bakers Waste Equipment process 75 tons of steel and ship about 10 truckloads of containers and equipment for handling trash and recyclable materials to 600 customers.

Bakers Waste opened its Lenoir plant last year, but on Wednesday morning, city and county officials, economic development representatives and the company's top staff gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to celebrate the company’s success and formally welcome the company to the area.

For more than 30 years, the company has manufactured waste handling equipment, founded in Morganton by Carson Baker in 1981. The company has now consolidated three operations in Burke and Catawba counties into its current space, a 250,000-square-foot building on U.S. 321-A that once was Broyhill Furniture Plant No. 3 but had been long been vacant. Bakers Waste renovated the plant, creating an office area and installing paint booths, new cranes and a new lighting system.

At Wednesday’s ribbon cutting, Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons said it was wonderful to see a building that’s part of Lenoir and Caldwell County’s history come back in a new and different way.

Clay Bollinger, chairman of the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners, told a personal story to tell about the plant’s history – he worked there in the late 1950s. Bollinger recalled seeing J.E. Broyhill walk through the plant, and Bollinger said that he knows that somewhere on the property there’s an artesian well.

Nearly every day, Bollinger said, he eats lunch at the nearby Clarence’s Friendly Lunch, and it's great to be there and see the trucks going in and out of this plant.

Bakers Waste owner Ric Raines, who purchased the company in 2001, said there had been a few snags in the process to move the company in Lenoir, which started in March 2012.

“We think this is the right place to be,” Raines said, adding that so far, everything from the agencies the company worked with to the community and neighbors has been positive.

From the large dumpsters used at construction sites to special de-watering grease containers for bio-diesel fuel that also have specially designed theft-prevention lids, Bakers Waste is on the cutting edge of its industry, he said, showing the ribbon-cutting audience a product called a Smartpactor, a trash compactor with some special features. Its lid opens automatically for someone trying to throw something away, while a monitor screen plays advertisements above. It will compact trash automatically and could be used in airports and sports stadiums. It has to be emptied only once a day, Raines said, and will send a message to let workers know when it’s full or needs maintenance.

Raines said the company is putting more focus on compactors, and though the amount of trash produced is going down, the company also is trying to capitalize on the growth in recycling.

The company has hired about 30 people since January, and the growth is continuing, he said.

“I don’t see any end in sight. I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I believe manufacturing’s best days are ahead of us.”