Plastic-lining manufacturer plans job growth at Fernley
When Robert Johnson, the president of Agru America Inc., first stepped out of a car to check out some industrial property on the east side of Fernley, three tumbleweeds rolled by.
He knew he was a long ways from the company’s existing American plant at Georgetown, S.C., and even further from its corporate headquarters in Austria.
“It was full of sand. There was nothing around,” Johnson recalled a few days ago.
Today only 15 months later Agru is producing gigantic rolls of plastic lining for landfills, mining and other operations from a 60,000-square-foot plant at Fernley.
And Johnson said the company is planning to add a second production line that will boost the plant’s employment by at least nine workers early next year.
Agru opened the doors the facility a few days ago to show key customers, along with state and local officials, how it produces 3,000-pound rolls of plastic lining.
They watched as a vacuum system empties plastic pellets from railcars along the west edge of the 25-acre property. The pellets are heated and run through rollers that create sheets of plastic 23 feet wide. Quality is
closely monitored to ensure the lining will keep contaminants out of groundwater once it’s installed at mines or landfills.
Agru had looked at sites throughout the West including Salt Lake City, Denver and Phoenix before it settled on the Fernley location.
Johnson said northern Nevada’s proximity to the Port of Oakland was a key factor in the company’s decision. The Fernley plant serves customers in Canada and South America as well as the western United
Another factor in the decision, Johnson said, was the proximity of the big gold mines in northern Nevada that are among Agru’s customers.
And like other manufacturers that have selected the region for West Coast operations, Agru likes the strong east-west and north-south highway networks that meet in northern Nevada.
The plant is located in the Crossroads Commerce Center developed by Reno’s Wade Development. Miles Construction was general contractor on the project.
The plant currently employs 15, Johnson said.
Agru America Inc. is a unit of Austria’s AGRU Kunststofftechnik GmbH, which makes plastic lining, plastic pipe and other products at plants in Austria, Germany, the United States, Thailand and India.
Its owner and chairman, Alois Gruber Jr., the son of the company’s founder, was among company executives who hosted local officials and customers on their visit to the plant.
The decision comes more than two months after state officials shuttered bars in seven counties statewide as the number of coronavirus cases spiked this summer.