- Category: Top Stories
- Published on Friday, 28 September 2012 01:00
- Written by Scott Johnson
The Port of Kalama has been the center of considerable activity this summer, with the addition of two new businesses, and the expansion of a third.
Newcomer Bennu Glass commenced production at the beginning of August. The opening is a culmination of nearly three years of work, following the company’s purchase of the old Cameron Glass plant for $64.8 million in March 2010.
According to Sales Service Manager Nicole Weir, Bennu Glass spent much of this year replacing the plant’s furnace.
“Starting back in January, they started tearing out the old furnace, because it wasn't usable, and started construction of the new one. July 4 is when we started the heat-up of the new furnace, and then by August 1 we were producing commercial bottles,” she explained.
Weir said that new furnace uses an oxy-fuel combustion process. Utilizing liquid oxygen and natural gas, Weir noted that the process “cuts down on emissions and makes it a really clean furnace.”
The Kalama plant is dedicated entirely to production of wine bottles, for distribution throughout the United States.
With the opening of the Bennu plant, Cowlitz County actually gained two new businesses. All American Container, one of the country’s largest distributors of glass, plastic and metal containers, recently leased the port’s largest building, with 33,000 square feet of space.
Stephanie Ramczyk, All American’s business development director, said the decision to locate in Kalama resulted from their role as exclusive distributor for Bennu Glass.
“[We have known for some time that] opening an office in the Northwest was part of our plans,” said Ramczyk. “The agreement with Bennu sped up those plans.”
Ramczyk noted that Bennu Glass is her company’s only domestic glass supply.
“Many people, especially in the wine industry, look for a domestic supplier. Because that market's been so tight, it's been difficult to get domestic glass," she said.
With two new businesses and a major expansion at Emerald Kalama Chemical, the Port of Kalama Marketing Manager Liz Newman said the port is succeeding at its mission of bringing investment and jobs to the region.
“We're lucky in Kalama geographically,” Newman said. “The hills come close to the river here, so that forces the main line of the railroad into a very close connection with the river, the shipping channel and also with interstate 5.”
Newman also reported that there are currently more than 800 employees at port-located industries, including over 90 at the new Bennu Glass plant.