CHATHAM – An additive feed manufacturer is coming to the long-vacant Techma building in Gretna.
Micro Blenders, Inc. will invest more than $3.5 million and bring 15 jobs to the northern Pittsylvania County town over the next three years, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry announced Friday morning at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex in Chatham.
The family-owned operation could have expanded in its home state or built a new facility in North Carolina, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring told attendees.
“But they chose the Commonwealth of Virginia to do their business,” Ring said, pointing to agriculture as the state’s first industry.
Virginia competed with North Carolina for the project.
Agriculture has an economic impact of about $70 billion in the state annually and provides about 334,000 jobs, Ring said.
Micro Blenders is a subsidiary of New Holland, Pennsylvania-based QLF, Inc., and will move into the 90,000-square-foot former Techma building on Route 40 East in Gretna. The owners plan to add 25,000 square feet of manufacturing space that will have the capacity to include four industrial mixers.
Techma, which made auto parts, closed in March 2010, eliminating 89 jobs.
“It’s good to see an existing plant that had been sitting idle have some new life breathed into it,” Gretna Mayor Keith Motley told the Danville Register & Bee just before the announcement.
Motley called Micro Blenders “a perfect fit for the town of Gretna.”
QLF was founded in 1996 and provides specialized pre-mix services for animal nutrition. The Gretna facility will provide mostly large-batch mixes.
Micro Blenders already provides feed additives for agricultural customers in Pittsylvania County.
“We ultimately decided we wanted to serve our customers better,” Micro Blenders Representative Matt Eby told attendees, adding that Virginia is the company’s second-largest customer.
Besides Pennsylvania and Virginia, Micro Blenders also ships products to customers in New York and around the world, Eby said.
Buddy Shelton, president of the Pittsylvania County Cattlemen’s Association, said the company’s proximity to the region’s customers will reduce shipping costs and provide an option for more custom products.
“They have an excellent record of quality and service,” Shelton told attendees.
The seeds of the company were planted when Eby’s father started blending his own animal feed on their farm. Soon, Eby said, people began asking his father to do the same for them.
“It grew and grew into what it is today,” Eby said.
Ben Farmer, who represents the Callands-Gretna District on the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, said, “This company will not only be a key resource … we’ll be welcoming a terrific family to our community.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Warren said the county is “gaining an outstanding company,” adding that he visited its facility in Pennsylvania.
“I was extremely impressed with the operation,” Warren said. “It truly was a family atmosphere. We’re not only getting an outstanding company, we’re getting an outstanding family.”
Pittsylvania County Economic Development Director Matt Rowe said the company is filling up the county’s only remaining industrial building. It is the ninth one to be occupied, he said.
“This is technically the last industrial building in Pittsylvania County,” Rowe said before the announcement. “We need to build some new ones.”