County welcomes Bakers Waste Equipment
Caldwell County issued the official welcome to the newest member of its industrial family Monday.
Bakers Waste Equipment is consolidating its operations in Burke and Catawba counties and moving its base of operations into the former Broyhill 55/3 plant in Whitnel. The company employs 80 people at present and plans to add 60 new jobs once the facility is up and running later this spring. Bakers Waste Equipment manufactures and sells steel containers and compactors for the waste, construction, recycling, manufacturing and retail industries. The average annual wage for the new jobs is $29,157 per year, which is consistent with the Caldwell County’s average annual salary.
Caldwell Economic Development Commission Chairman William Howard summed up the feeling of the entire county that there are new jobs coming.
“We are excited beyond measure to have Bakers Waste, our newest business, in Caldwell County,” he said. “There was a pebble or two along the way, but we were able to do what we could to make this a reality for the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County.”
Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray outlined some of the process of luring Bakers Waste to Caldwell County. She said she met Bakers Waste President Ric Raines roughly six months ago thanks to an introduction by Bill Payne of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Payne had worked with Bakers Waste to find expansion space in Burke County, but they weren’t successful in finding a suitable site there. Raines wanted to find a location close enough for current employees to commute, so Payne paired Raines together with Murray to begin work on a location in Caldwell County.
“They decided to try to stay close to home to protect the jobs and keep the folks working that they valued so much and had been part of their success to poise them for this expansion for the future,” Murray said. “That close-to-home location became Caldwell County. We looked at a number of buildings and we’re very proud to say that not only did they choose Caldwell County, Ric and his team chose a former factory building in the 321-A corridor that has been silent for a number of years.
“Today, we celebrate the revitalization of the former Broyhill 55/3 facility. Today, it officially becomes the Bakers Waste site.”
Raines said he was impressed with the local effort to create a new base for his company, and he said he was especially happy about the building that will house his operation.
“It’s a wonderful facility — well built and well maintained,” he said. “The main problem was it’s structured for handling things that are about the size of a chair or a sofa, so we’re working with everything from a small lift container to the size of a tractor-trailer. We’re having to open it up just a little bit, but the bones are good, and the conversion is going to work out.”
Raines said the move to Caldwell offered Bakers Waste the opportunity to grow since the space in the company’s new site is about double what it has in its three present sites.
“That will give us room to consolidate, “ he said. “The priorities we always hold in force — we say we always want to look at safety. The second thing is quality. The third thing is customer service, and the fourth thing is productivity. We think this project is going to allow us to make big strides in all of those areas. We’re enthusiastic about it and excited to be here.”
North Carolina House of Representatives Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, one of many local and state dignitaries present for the announcement, expressed his happiness that Bakers Waste had settled here.
“We’re delighted that you have decided to call this your new home,” he said. “I think you’ll find that Caldwell County is the right place for you to be for this consolidating endeavor, and we’re grateful.”