New Business: The former Tri-county Shirt Factory, located along State Highway 9 in Salem will soon be a new home to manufacturing operations for Sentex Worldwide. Photo/Ninemire
The former Tri-County Shirt Factory building, empty since 2001, is expected to be occupied again as soon as lease agreements are finalized.
Fulton County Judge Charles Willett announced at the Nov. 13 Fulton County Quorum Court meeting that Sentex Worldwide Inc. is planning to begin working in the vacant building that once housed Salem's Tri-County Shirt Factory.
Sentex is an American company that formed out of the need for homes and buildings that can withstand turbulent weather, according to the company's Web site.
The Ohio-based company manufactures a specialized type of brick that fits together like Lego building blocks. Instead of joining the blocks with mortar, the blocks are intertwined using steel rods, said ProMarketing President Mike Waddell, who was hired to promote Sentex.
The specialized blocks are made of two cutting-edge materials. One is Dyliogomer, a patented material created by Sentex president and CEO Charles Friesner, the other a concrete-like material called sencrete.
These innovative blocks are combined with the metal rod system that enables Sentex to construct homes that can resist F-3 tornados, up to 160 mph hurricane-force winds, fire, flooding and insect manifestations, according to the company Web site.
The coming of the new company is welcome news to Willett, who has been working since July to find a business for the empty facility.
Prospects were slim after the shirt factory closed in November of 2001. Two companies the Salem Industrial Development Corporation saw as potential businesses to fill the vacant building backed out of their offers.
Now, things are more hopeful.
Willett said the SIDC paid for him to travel to Trenton, S.C., in July. There he met with Friesner to talk about the need for jobs in Fulton County and to discuss the possibility of Sentex coming to the area.
Currently a lease agreement is being written that promises the facility to Sentex under the condition that the company will provide 20 new jobs by the end of the following year, Willett said.
"I don't see anything as 100 percent until it's here, but it's in the works; we're hoping that everything goes through," Willett said.
Willett said the plan is for Sentex to begin moving manufacturing equipment into the facility as soon as the lease agreement is finalized, possibly by the beginning of 2007.
Salem is getting ready; for having been empty for almost six years, the former shirt factory appears to be in good shape, said Willett. However, the county is working to make minor, necessary improvements, like cleaning and painting, according to Willett.
Willett said both Salem Mayor Gary Clayton and SIDC President Jerry Estes have been helpful in developing the deal.
Clayton said that everyone involved has been working with the White River Planning and Development District.
More information on Sentex Worldwide can be found at www.sentexworldwide.com.